Dean McPhee: Son of the Black Peace
Blast First Petite

Recorded live in single takes with no overdubs, Son of the Black Peace is the sound of one man armed with an electric guitar and a few pedals bringing into being four long-form tracks of introspective drift and beauty that are more than a little capable of mesmerizing the receptive listener. The man in question is West Yorkshire-based Dean McPhee, who demonstrates no shortage of sensivity to nuance, texture, and, lest we forget, melody on his first full-length album (an EP, Brown Bear, appeared in spring 2010). In terms of playing style, McPhee deftly accompanies himself by grounding the pieces in bass figures and layering on top sharply delineated melodic lines. A rich range of timbral effects characterizes his sound: hints of Eastern modality emerge in the curlicue shapes he sometimes voices; a chiming quality also appears in both the chords and picking; and a wide-screen ambiance surfaces, too, in the subtle shadings of tremolo and echo that shadow his ever-so-fluid attack. While a mood of peaceful resolution colours the unhurried ruminations of “Golden Bridge,” the ease and elegance with which McPhee pursues the melodic trail on the stately “Star Burial” is just one of many special moments captured on the recording. “Cloud Forest” brings all of the album's strengths together within a single setting, with McPhee first indulging in some slide-styled playing before easing the piece out with four ghostly minutes of beautifully controlled E-bow swoop and sustain. While clearly an accomplished player, McPhee has no time for virtuosic self-indulgence; his artistic focus is instead on lyricism and in-the-moment sensitivity to overall tonal colour. In its understated way, Son of the Black Peace is spectacular and immensely satisfying music, even if, at thirty-six minutes, it's over quickly.

January 2012