gun outfit Out of Range (140g vinyl LP, £18.95)
“Peyote for the ears... Expansive, arid, and dusty.” Uncut // “Dreamers wielding slide guitars. A tradition-warping band, with a punk aesthetic deep at the centre and double-guitar desert-rock psychedelia at the surface.” The New York Times // Like a stone eroded by years in the arroyo, Gun Outfit’s enveloping “Western expanse” aesthetic of guitar levitations and honky-tonk hexes has become gradually smoother over time. Their fifth LP ranks as their most brutally beautiful statement yet. Drawing from mythologies both classical and postmodern, Out of Range builds a world in which Brueghel the Elder, St. Augustine, and the ancient goddess Cybele ride with John Ford, Samuel Beckett and Wallace Stevens on a Orphic-Gnostic suicide drive towards the hallucinatory vanishing points of the Southwestern desert, debating the denouement of the decaying American dream. It’s a lesser known beheading-ending of the Orpheus story that L.A. band Gun Outfit recount in “Ontological Intercourse,” the opening track of their fifth full-length record Out of Range, their most brutally beautiful statement yet: “Seeds/the kind that sparrows eat/becoming the willow tree/that Orpheus took beneath/To play ballads for the dead/Till they buried his singing head/Because he worshipped the sun instead/Of the god of epiphany.” Next time the chorus comes round, singer and guitarist Dylan Sharp—who shares twin vocal and guitar duties with the incomparable Carrie Keith—sings a mutant doo-wop bass line. Ballads for the dead, indeed. Meanwhile, other songs inhabit concerns more terrestrial and immediate, though no less profound: the open road (“The 101”); human love (“Three Words,”); death and the failures of faith (“Primacy of Love”); and the damages, deceits, and delights of drugs (“Strange Insistence.”) The latter quotes the Old Testament (Numbers 21:17: “Spring up/O well”) soon after reciting, ironically, the deadly seductions of narcotics: “Speed makes you a genius/Cocaine will make you rich/LSD shows you divinity/And everything’s alright on opiates.” “I tried to quit/before I quit again,” it begins with resolve, but after all, “lies can make you famous.” Throughout the album, the strange becomes familiar, and the familiar strange, a desert mirage of music and language; or, as Carrie sings in the Waylon-esque “Background Deal:” “The things she says/you never heard ’em before.” And therein lies the magic trick: Out of Range somehow manages to contain Gun Outfit’s most conceptually sophisticated and lyrically ambitious material, while remaining their most musically subtle, understated, and accessible album to date, completing their gradual metamorphosis from punk aesthetics to a truly cosmic country—wherein “country” is a geography, a structure of feeling, not a genre. Tracks: A1. “Ontological Intercourse” 5:02 A2. “Landscape Painter” 3:09 A3. “Cybele” 2:40 A4. “Strange Insistence” 4:13 A5. “The 101” 2:56 B1. “Slow Realization” 2:47 B2. “Sally Rose” 3:06 B3. “Three Words” 3:58 B4. “Primacy of Love” 4:56 B5. “Background Deal” 3:42 B6. “Second Decade” 5:12. Deluxe LP with printed inner sleeve and download.
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