Guardian Alien

Psych Fest Record Reviews

Guardian Alien

Spiritual Emergency (Thrill Jockey)

Despite the esoteric nature of this post-rock/free jazz hybrid, Greg Fox's voracious percussion acumen springboards it far beyond late-night head noise. Even as passages of Guardian Alien's second LP fall apart, the Brooklynites' vision keeps the experiment from driving into tangential cul-de-sacs. Opening salvo "Tranquilizer" combines resonant tabla runs with cut-up vocal loops and slippery, underwater bass, and the side-long title track crackles to life with sped-up TV news-style synthesizer providing a backdrop to transpersonal psychologist Stanislav Grof explaining why hallucinations shouldn't be dismissed out of hand as pathological. His theories become more plausible as Fox's hypnotic drumming leads to a free-form intermingling of shahi baaja, guitar, and high-ceilinged chants. The epic finally coalesces into an explosive, screaming climax that finds clarity in chaos. (Sun., 4pm, Levitation Tent)

***.5

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