Matthewdavid's Mindflight: Ashram
Leaving Records

Matthewdavid's Mindflight: Trust the Guide and Glide
Leaving Records

Los Angeles-based composer and Leaving Records founder Matthew David McQueen dons his Matthewdavid's Mindflight guise for these 2016 excursions into cosmic New Age, the first a forty-minute appetizer on cassette and the coup de grace an eighty-eight-minute mindmelt on vinyl. Veritable portals into altered states of consciousness, the releases, issued as part of the “Leaving Records for the New Age” series, make a compelling argument for the sometimes derided genre, which in McQueen's hands sounds thoroughly revitalized.

In being the slightly more grounded of the two releases, Ashram acts as an effective scenesetter for Trust the Guide and Glide. Listening to the cassette material, one visualizes oneself meditating in India or Indonesia surrounded by statues and misty mountains and serenaded by sounds of water fountains and birds—close your eyes and you can almost feel the early morning dew on the leaves around you. Deepening the serenity of the vision, the opening meditation “Orange Ganesh” fills the air with layers of flutes, whose hypnotic flutter likens them to slow-blossoming flowers. Elsewhere, field recordings from Bali, synthesizers, and vocals by Nora Keyes weave their way into the heatstroked “Dancing Ganesh,” a seventeen-minute digital exclusive that sees Keyes' wordless ululations swimming in an oceanic mix like some rarely seen sea creature. In contrast to such earthy expeditions, the cassette-only B-side “Electric Ganesh” sets its controls for the heart of the Milky Way and dazzles the mind with twenty minutes of shimmering synthesizer vibrations. Rippling patterns cycle without pause, battering one's senses with endless washes of synthetic sound.

The even greater blissout arrives, of course, with Trust the Guide and Glide, whose seven ever-burbling tracks are spread across four vinyl sides in a gatefold jacket graced by Gilbert Williams' fantastic artwork. Midwifed into physical form with some help from Ableton, the release unfolds like a never-ending fireworks display, with titles such as “Ocean Dream Symphony,” “Unfolding Atlantis,” and “Venusian Sunset” conveying the character and tone of the recording all by themselves. Elsewhere, “Love's Harp” is as heavenly as might be expected, while “Elven Invitation” percolates and sparkles in equal measure, calling to mind enchanted forests and its denizens as it does so. All but “Dune Enigma” tip past the ten-minute mark, but the zenith is reached at album's end when “The Vessel and the Voyage” rearranges the synapses with twenty-two minutes of blinding sunshowers.

Specific locales are referenced in the titles, but being as ethereal as it is the material resists being easily tied to a particular time and place. These sprawling vistas, coaxed by McQueen into being using organs, harps, synthesizers, flutes, and field recordings as raw materials, are vast, twinkling soundfields into which one plunges. Trust the Guide and Glide has been conveniently structured with indexed tracks so that one can dip into the recording at different places with ease. Yet, considerations of convenience aside, I almost wish it'd been structured as a single, eighty-eight-minute track, given how much such a presentation would facilitate complete immersion. It's mesmerizing stuff, regardless.

September 2016