Deep Magic: Lucid Thought

Quiet Evenings: Transcending Spheres

Following upon recent outings by AREA C and Fabio Orsi, Deep Magic's Lucid Thought and Quiet Evenings' Transcending Spheres are the third and fourth in an ongoing series of releases from Preservation in its limited-edition Circa series (300 copies), with each of the releases immediately identifiable by displaying a variation on Mark Gowing's abstract cover design.

Lucid Thought, the second full-length album from Californian Alex Gray under the Deep Magic moniker, is astral traveling for those, one imagines, whose chemical appeitite tends towards peyote and mushrooms. It's panoramic and sun-blinded material, six tracks of trippy psych-folk assembled using acoustic and electric guitars, hand percussion, synthesizer, keyboards, and vocals and easily capable of inducing out-of-body experiences. One pictures Gray (who's issued small-run cassette releases on his own Deep Tapes label and contributed to releases by Pocahaunted and Black Eagle Child) huddled in some crowded studio or apartment and surrounded by gear as he lays down with unwavering focus ten-minute, lo-fi swathes of mind-melting blaze. The album's six, similarly titled tracks (“Minds In Lucidity I,” “Minds In Lucidity II,” etc.) teem with dense thickets of psychedelia emblazened with electric guitar twang and acoustic finger-picking, with all of it drenched in hallucinatory haze. A mood of controlled delirium pervades the material as Gray's microtonal shudder exudes a blissed-out euphoria that nevertheless retains an earthiness that keeps it grounded. It's certainly not the worst way one could spend forty-five minutes of one's time.

Transcending Spheres is from Georgia-based Grant and Rachel Evans as Quiet Evenings, and though it's their debut debut full-length under that name the duo (who also co-manage the Hooker Vision label) has amassed more than fifty releases for various labels under their individual guises, Grant as Nova Scotian Arms and Rachel as Motion Sickness of Time Travel. Using a modest amount of gear (guitars, synthesisers, and voice), Quiet Evenings threads elements of ambient, drone, and ‘70s synthesizer music into graceful settings that feel alive and responsive to the directional possibilities that present themselves in the moment. All but one of the seven tracks are in the seven- to ten-minute range, which means a couple of things: first of all, the material unfolds of its own natural accord without any sense that the creators are rushing to shoehorn a given piece into a predetermined temporal structure; secondly, the generous track lengths allow the pieces to mutate multiple times and thereby defy easy categorization. As a result, a representative piece such as “Departing” sets sail in restrained ambient-drone mode but, abetted by the pulsations of kosmische musik, slowly blossoms into something not only more aggressive but genre-transcending too. “Fog Hammers” gradually subsumes delicate electric guitar shadings within a reverberant mass that, like the first track, gradually changes shape by building in intensity and growing louder in the process. One of the most appealing things about Transcending Spheres is its mid-album gravitatation towards the quieter end of the spectrum. Halfway through the recording, “Inevitability of Deca,” for instance, inhabits a melancholy, dream-like space where distant transmissions flutter through the air, suggestive of planetary systems light years away, while “Finality” opts for meditative, even mournful moodscaping, this time one ornamented with hushed vocal accents. Further intergalaxial sojourns emerge when the title track guides Quiet Evenings' fine collection to a heady close.

May 2011