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Mark McGuire - A Young Person’s Guide to Mark McGuire

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Artist: Mark McGuire

Album: A Young Person’s Guide to Mark McGuire

Label: Editions Mego

Review date: Jul. 7, 2011

Mark McGuire, the 24-year old guitarist for Cleveland-based analog adventurers Emeralds, has in the past handful of years flooded the scene with micro-edition cassettes, LPs and CDRs containing his solo works.

Last year, Weird Forest released Tidings/Amethyst Waves, a 2xLP collection of previously-issued, although rarely heard tapes. The album was one of the year’s best, a moody collection of cooled-lava burble and open-sky expansiveness — tapped from electric guitar and a mound of torn ‘n’ frayed pedals. Editions Mego caught a whiff and introduced McGuire to the world outside of mail order obsessives with Living With Yourself.

Now, eMEGO has dropped the McGuire motherload in the form of A Young Person’s Guide to Mark McGuire, a double-CD, two-and-a-half hour collection of tracks spanning 2007-2010. The material was previously available — if you can call it that — on a myriad of limited discs likely heard only by a few intrepid merch table seekers and whomever fell on McGuire’s Christmas list.

Immediately, the main frustration with AYPGTMM is its length. Sure, cash-starved shoppers will be pleased with the abundance of material. Yet, experimental music in general, and McGuire’s blend of kosmische thrust, amp-taxed layering and ambient exhalation, in particular, is best suited to, say, a side of wax, not an afternoon-filling CD. While the moments here individually succeed more often than not, it’s common knowledge that too much of a good thing can lead to overdose.

Musically, the biggest departure here is that McGuire’s — and, somewhat by default, Emeralds’ — signature sound, all full moon echo and pre-dawn fog, is often given a backseat to more powerful, volume enhanced workouts. While there is plenty of percolating calm, such as “Stranger Than Paradise,” the McGuire collected in AYPGTMM is far more interested in blowing speaker tubes than acting as a soundtrack for nodding off.

“Dream Team,” the collection’s debut, provides a perfect example. The track comes crushing and hissing from the speakers, accelerated by thubbing bass and solos that stammer into a cacophonic tumble. It’s still steeped in ‘70s Germany, but this is much more autobahn speed-chasing than poppy field prance. Oh, and the track tops out over 17-minutes, meaning even the most casual listeners will struggle to not get the point by the time the proceedings fade into an aquatic wash.

Elsewhere on the discs, McGuire covers, well, basically everything he’s become rather well known for. “The Path Lined With Colorful Stones” is a slow-mo pirouette through deep, forest-cool tones. “Icy Windows” begins with surprisingly clean strums, only to intensify into freezer-burned riffing. “Sick Chemistry” sounds like an My Bloody Valentine instrumental heard through a brain-clog of Sudafed.

Here, as in the past, McGuire’s output is admirably consistent. Yet, while the dedicated may scramble to get these ultra-rare cuts in a single, well-assembled package, it’s unfortunate that McGuire’s most high-profile release to date is a bit much to swallow for first-dose initiates.

By Ethan Covey

Other Reviews of Mark McGuire

Tidings/Amesthyst Waves

Living With Yourself

Get Lost

Read More

View all articles by Ethan Covey

Find out more about Editions Mego

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