Psychic Temple - IV

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2017-07-14

Anybody who is at least a bit familiar with the work of California musician/songwriter/producer/musical guru Chris Schlarb knows that whenever his new project is announced that it will probably not sound a bit like the previous one, or that it will have some kind of a musical twist on what he has done before. From pure pop, like on the last year’s III to the interpretation of Eno’s Music For Airports as seen through the eyes (and ears) of the Miles Davis band circa In A Silent Way.

There is always one constant though. Schlarb, akin to a somewhat similar soul in the New York producer/conductor Kip Hanrahan (although Hanrahan has a bit more jazz slant that Schlarb) usually brings in a host of known or unknown musicians/singers, but those that fit their projects perfectly. So far, Schlarb, had people like Nels Cline, Mike Watt, Muscle Shoals session men and others hosting.

No exception with IV. The list of guests is as long as anybody’s arm and includes the names like the previous generation bass player Max Bennett who played on Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark and Hissing of the Summer Lawns and Mike Rossi of the Philip Glass Ensemble.

One name stands out though. It's that of the legendary British singer/guitarist Terry Reid, who is particularly fitting to this project. You see, Schlarb has decided this time around to recreate the vibe of the California sound as was done on Reid’s 1973 masterpiece River. No replaying of then recorded songs, no regurgitation of the same sound, just the vibe and the feeling. And it works a charm.

There’s a natural flow to the music, where songs have additional interludes which only enhance the main themes. For example, on If I Don’t Leave They’ll take me Away, which has dual vocals by Schlarb and Reid, you simply feel a natural progression to the interlude of the song with, again, Schlarb and Reid on acoustic guitars, along with other musicians.

On IV Schlarb recalls the sounds of all great Californian music, if only as a snippet, like an organ coda in The Art of Giving Up, that could have come straight from the Beach Boys Pet Sounds or Smile sessions.

But then, the key is in the overall vibe, you can simply not point out a song that rises above (the extremely high) standard of the others, or one that by even an inch falls below others. Actually, that seems to be the characteristic of all Schlarb projects - he seems to be the guy who quietly exudes excellent music.

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