Earth, Mark McGuire | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Earth, Mark McGuire 

When: Thu., March 27, 9:30 p.m. 2014
[Earth] brings it way way down, past even Sabbathy 'lude rock, into an icy zone of dark-matter density—you wonder if this deep, deep sludge is being played by Ents or trolls or some other creature that has a longer life span and a much slower metabolism than we do. They aren't setting the controls for the heart of the sun like so many psychedelic rock bands—they're trying to tunnel to the center of the earth, and they don't care how long it takes to get there. —Monica Kendrick, 2005

The output of Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist Mark McGuire, both solo and with his old Cleveland trio Emeralds, has done a lot to blur the line between kosmische and New Age music—though I suspect there's not much of a line at all, except that the former has always been cool and the latter hasn't. On his new album, Along the Way (Dead Oceans), McGuire layers drifty keyboards, noodly processed electric guitar, and 80-style production flourishes (drum-machine business, synth tones) into 13 mostly instrumental tracks that bleed seamlessly together. In press materials he calls it "an odyssey through the vast, unknown regions of the mind," but at times it suggests a collaboration between Mark Knopfler and Ray "Deep Breakfast" Lynch—which only someone too young to remember the 80s could imagine unironically. Despite extended passages where I have to fight not to vomit, I find the scope of McGuire's aesthetic combinations impressive—he blends together not just New Age and kosmiche but also prog rock, synth pop, and straight-up pop music. I'm sure he's shooting for something transcendent rather than merely relaxing, even if I can't always feel it myself. —Peter Margasak


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