Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mark McGuire - Dream Team (Wagon CD-R)

Emeralds are, at this point, about as well established as any band from this scene has gotten, and given their sound that's no surprise. But equally well respected are the various members' solo works, and perhaps none of them has been more prolific of late than guitarist Mark McGuire. Had the pleasure of booking him down at school for my last show this spring (along with a bunch of other slayers!) and then ran into him at No Fun Fest on Sunday where I picked this up. Special mention should actually be made: fellow Emeralds member Steve Hauschildt's entire set-up got jacked from a van at said festival along with Raglani's, so if you know anything or want to help out these deserving dudes click here.

But anyway, on to more positive matters. This disc, split into three extended solo improvisations, features McGuire's signature post-rock build-ups while minimizing the proggy leanings that so much of his output has. While a lot of McGuire's stuff reads like the guitar part to an Emeralds song before inevitably building into some heavy momentum stuff, this one starts with a fuzzed out opener on "Dream Team 1." Almost Sonic Youth-y sound here, though much less constructed as distorted riffs intermingle and loop around one another before McGuire's vocals slip in to infuse some melody into the mirage. Quite lovely and unapologetically pretty stuff. "Different Light" follows up with a gloomier take, as thick oscillating drones move through some dense circuitry on their way toward the skies. Reminds me a bit of McGuire's playing on that Skyramps disc, totally epic wash whose parts are spread far outward before tiny little steel pan melodies formulate themselves sin the background like little dust mites congregating into an army. Whole thing clears itself eventually too, which only makes it more exquisite a journey.

The final track, "Dream Team 2," opens sounding more like much of the other McGuire stuff I've heard as fractured pieces with plenty of space are pieced together into a kind of post-minimalist, post-Cluster sound (yeah yeah, same associations everyone makes but you gotta admit that it's right on target...) that somehow ebbs its way into some celestial worlds all its own. I have to say, watching McGuire construct his set at Bard really makes all of this that much more interesting to listen to--his control is absurd, but never sterile, and his playing touches on so many realms that it enters itself into some next level areas. Drifting and lovingly constructed work that continues to build upon this already impressive dude's output. Super nice dude too, if you ever get a chance his shows are not to be missed. Put out on Emeralds' own Wagon label too, always a winning combo.

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