6

Chris Schlarb: Psychic Temple II

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Schlarb: Psychic Temple II Multi-instrumentalist/composer Chris Schlarb rarely does things by halves. Psychic Temple (Sounds Are Active/Asthmatic Kitty, 2011) was the exotic fruit of over a 1000 hours of studio time and an opus that involved twenty nine of California's most progressive musicians. Wordless choir, strings, horns, acoustic and electric instruments combined with drone and subtle electronics to create an utterly sublime sonic meditation—the final word in folk-jazz ambient music. However, with Schlarb, music is always in a state of transition. So it is that the second installment picks up roughly where the first left off but steers the music in another direction, one which may surprise those expecting—or hoping for—more of the same.

There are, undoubtedly, certain stylistic, melodic and thematic threads linking the two works together, and once again Schlarb has assembled his outsized coteri of trusted collaborators. Yet, this a fundamentally different offering, with lyrics sung on half the tracks. There are also three covers; Brian Wilson's 'Til I Die," sung by Raymond Raposa, Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out," sung by Aaron Roche, and an instrumental version of Frank Zappa's "Sofa No. 2." These interpretations are fairly faithful to the originals, which in itself is something of a surprise, given Schlarb's penchant for strikingly original compositions. Of the three, perhaps Wilson's composition from the Beach Boys' album Surfs Up (Brother/Reprise, 1971) is closest to Schlarb's aesthetic of harmonically sophisticated layers of sound.

Schlarb's originals, however, hold the most allure; "Seventh House" featuring singer Sarah Naghadari is a strangely hypnotic slice of alternative pop, with saxophonist David Moyer's dreamy tenor dissipating all too soon. The gorgeous ode to love, "Bird in the Garden" has something of guitarist Bill Frisell's aching country lyricism, with DM Stith's gentle, husky delivery framed by Ikey Owen's shimmering Hammond and Philip Glenn's softly singing violin. "Solo in Place" features Roche, whose voice captivates like slowly curling smoke while guitarist Josh Ottum carves a delightfully peppy little solo. Singer Arlene Deradoorian brings understated lyricism to "All I Want is Time," the intro of which echoes "Dream State Police State's reprise from Psychic Temple .

The most jazz influenced track, "The Starry King hears Laughter" features fine solos from trumpeter Kris Tiner and double bassist Devin Hoff on arco. Tiner also shines on "She is the Golden World," where drummers Tabor Allen and Andrew Pompey, who indulge in shadow play on all but one track, paint bolder percussive colors. The violin and trombone drones of "NO TSURAI" come from the heart of the psychic temple. Schlarb and Danny Miller exchange meditative phrases on electric guitar that exude a slightly psychedelic bliss. This segues into the jazz-rock miniature "Hyacinth Thrash Quarter," which is arguably closer to a Zappa homage than "Sofa No. 2."

This second go 'round is more orthodox in conception and has greater rhythmic pulse than its ambient progenitor, the suite-like Psychic Temple— though it's a little like comparing apples and oranges. Whilst not as consistently transcendent as PT, PT II is nevertheless totally absorbing and occasionally touches on the poetic.

Track Listing: Seventh House; The Starry King Hears Laughter; Solo in Place; Bird in the Garden; ‘Til I Die; She is the Golden World; Steppin’ Out; All I Want is Time; Sofa No. 2; NO TSURAI; Hyacinth Trash Quarter.

Personnel: Tabor Allen: acoustic drums (1-9, 11); David Moyer: tenor saxophone (1, 8), alto saxophone (8-11) Sarah Negahdari: vocals (1); Andrew Pompey: acoustic drums (1-9, 11); Aaron Roche: vocals (3, 7), backing vocals (1), acoustic guitar (2, 5, 11), flugelhorn (3), pump organ (5); Chris Schlarb: acoustic guitar (1, 3-9, 11), electric guitar (1, 3, 6, 8, 10-11), electric bass (1), Moog synthesizer (1, 10), vibraphone (1, 5), Yamaha CP-70B electric piano (1), backing vocals (4); Devin Hoff: double bass (1, 11); Danny Miller: electric guitar (2, 11); Paulie Pesh: electric guitar (2), acoustic guitar (11); Kris Tiner: trumpet (2, 6); Brian Walsh: bass clarinet (2, 8-11), clarinet (8, 10); Steuart Liebig: six-string electric bass (3-4, 7); Paul Masvidal: acoustic guitar (3), electric guitar (10); Josh Ottum: electric guitar (3), acoustic guitar (4); Nicholas Zork: violin (3, 5, 8); Philip Glenn: violin (4, 8-10); Ikey Owens: Hammond organ (4-5); Adriana Schlarb: backing vocals (4); DM Stith: vocals (4); Logan Coale: double bass (5); Raymond Raposa: vocals (5); Anthony Shadduck: double bass (5-6, 8); Sufjan Stevens: vocals (5); Nedelle Torrisi: vocals (5); John Clement Wood: Yamaha CP-70B electric piano (7); Arlene Deradoorian: (8); Danny T Levin: trombone (8-11), trumpet (8).

Title: Psychic Temple II | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Sonder CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Putting Off Death CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Chant" CD/LP/Track Review Chant
by Nicola Negri
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Of The Musical" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Musical
by Paul Naser
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Nellie Bly Project" CD/LP/Track Review Nellie Bly Project
by Paul Rauch
Published: August 11, 2017
Read "Unspoken" CD/LP/Track Review Unspoken
by Andrew Luhn
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Sizzle" CD/LP/Track Review Sizzle
by Geannine Reid
Published: October 10, 2016
Read "Double Septet" CD/LP/Track Review Double Septet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 10, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.