residual echoes The Middle Path (LP, £15.50)label: Holy Mountain
In the grand tradition of albums consisting of sidelong tracks, The Middle Path ranks among the best. How great is it? On the level of the latest opus by Decimus (NNCK’s Pat Murano), Tangerine Dream’s Zeit and Ash Ra Tempel’s first LP. Taking collage rock to college, band leader Adam Payne and drummer Matthew Clark present their loftiest contribution yet to the out-rock canon. They let their freak flag fly high, but with a disciplined air. “Bush Pij / Sometimes” starts with a bulbous, stunt-rock charge that evokes first-four-albums Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and the heaviest parts of Focus’s Hocus Pocus. After working the listener into a lather, Residual Echoes downshift into a bong-breaking interlude featuring Payne’s nonchalant, deep-voiced plaint: “Why does it seem so hard? … / Sometimes people make a fool out of me.” Such woe is swept away by headbanging passages full of torrid, florid guitar solos and the kind of explosive drumming that makes fans of Bill Ward and Keith Moon paradiddle all over themselves. Later, an ominous tolling redolent of Sonic Youth’s “Halloween” conjures a beautifully haunting, desolate comedown. What a trip. But this is mere warm-up for “A Marriage,” the pinnacle of Residual Echoes’ career and one of 2013’s most excellent and action-packed tracks. It begins like the greatest facsimile of “Hallogallo” one has ever heard (and there have been many): motorik bliss boogie with flute gently fluctuating in the airstream, bolstered by burbling bass, gull-cry guitar and nipple gongs. Around six-and-a-half minutes in, things get incredibly anthemic in a Meat Puppets Up on the Sun way. Bonus: The guitar solo at the twelve-minute mark flares and curlicues like Wayne Rogers on the world’s best trucker speed. Near the end, a strangulated feedback concerto carries the listener bewilderedly to the run-off groove. The Middle Path turns out to be the righteous route.
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