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Eternal Tapestry - Beyond the 4th Door

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Artist: Eternal Tapestry

Album: Beyond the 4th Door

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Mar. 14, 2011

“Galactic Derelict” is everything that psychedelic guitar rock should be. Its pace is measured, funereal and bashed out like a prizefight on toms and cymbals. Its bass churns up from the bottom, all storm and turmoil and rumored violence. The guitars hiss and moan and careen in wild arcs, long notes prism-shattered through finger-wiggling vibrato. The wah-wah spits and growls like a giant cat, back arched, neck fur spiked, claws out, dangerous. This third track, the single from Eternal Tapestry’s Beyond the 4th Door, makes the case that droning psychedelia can still be visceral, even thrilling for listeners and not just self-indulgence for wayward guitar players.

Unfortunately, “Galactic Derelict” and the long closer “Time Winds Through a Glass” are the main instances where this Portland-based collective of instrumental improvisers bends time to its will, carving a separate continuum for meditations that feel eternal rather than simply endless. The rest of the album requires patience, stolidity and a certain willingness to lie motionless on the floor, preferably in darkness, preferably alone.

All of which is, quite possibly, just fine with Eternal Tapestry, a convocation of West Coast free-jamming heavyweights, whose members include Nick Bindeman (from Tunnels and Jackie-O Motherfucker), Dewey Mahood (of Plankton Wat and Garden Sound), Jed Bindeman (Heavy Winged, Jackie-O, Operative and, like Mahood, Garden Sound), Ryan Carlile (Cloaks) and Krag Linkins. The project began around Nick Bindeman and Mahood in the mid-2000s. Countless sessions have included equally countless collaborators, but Jed Bindeman (Nick’s brother) has been a constant in recent years, as has synth and sax player (you can hear him blow on “Time Winds Through a Glass”) Carlile.

Beyond the 4th Door starts slowly, with sounds building mirage-like around a circling bass motif (that’s Linkins). This is “Ancient Echoes,” a song that recalls certain long-playing Om excursions in its unwillingness to get to the point. The piece begins with the faraway jangle of guitars, a sound which gradually moves to the center. Both guitars are heavily effected with watery, wavery echo, so that you can hardly tell where one ends and the other begins. “Cosmic Manhunt” brings more of the dual-guitar interplay, both players following a melody that climbs laboriously, step by step, up a rickety scale. The weight of effort hangs heavy over this piece. You feel as if you are climbing alongside, breathing heavily, and wondering if the view at the top will be, in any way, worth the trip. And then, quite suddenly, with “Galactic Derelict” it is.

“Galactic Derelict” is by no means the only worthy moment on Beyond the 4th Door. Even the slower, dirge-like compositions have their intervals of glory, and the ending track, “Time Winds Through a Glass” is tranquilly, serenely lovely. Bands like Eternal Tapestry ask listeners to slow down, to be less antsy and goal-oriented, and to simply let time and musical texture wash over them. That’s fine, but wouldn’t you rather have an instrumental psych track grab you by the balls? Let’s have more galactic, more derelict, more excitement next time.

By Jennifer Kelly

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