Craig McElhinney: You and Me Are Young and Brutal

Perth-based guitarist Craig McElhinney recorded his debut album You and Me Are Young and Brutal live in the studio in January 2009. It's an album of modest length—thirty-four minutes, to be exact—but is far-reaching in the range of sounds McElhinney draws from his instrument. Folk, blues, psychedelic, and drone elements come into play during the five set-pieces, all of which are modest in length except for one, the seventeen-minute “Theme For Precipitation.” Eastern filigrees undulate within “The Kavorka (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Beast)” before the ruminative “Drift Slowly Down The Frozen Lakes Through the Ice Caves of Your Mind” deploys shimmering loops and subtle acoustic and bluesy electric shadings to build an atmosphere of peaceful desolation. The track flows naturally on into “See You, Tennis Prince” where layers of interlacing patterns produce an overall more aggressive and slow-burning ambiance. The epic doom-laden improvisations of “Theme For Precipitation” find McElhinney traveling towards the desert's center for a peyote-fueled invocation to the Greek Rain-god Zeus. Percussive loops cycle hypnotically as McElhinney pursues strategic lines of attack, sometimes holding back and sometimes marching forward with gently stabbing lines. To his credit, McElhinney eschews conventional soloing throughout the album for a style closer in spirit to meditative mood-sculpting. All told, it's an impressive showing, even if the mini-album length makes it feel like an incomplete portrait of the man's artistry.

July 2009