Music Review | posted 20.02.2014
Mark McGuire
Along the way
Dead Oceans, 2014
Text Sebastian Hinz , Translation Julia Frohn
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Cover Mark McGuire - Along the way

When Mark McGuire announced leaving the Emeralds, the super-group that’s part of a distinctive US-scene, revitalizing the sound-tradition of Krautrock, the band’s end was already being heralded. No need to shed a tear, though, since all the individual band members (besides McGuire there were John Elliott and Steve Hauschildt) have come forward with impressive solo-releases. At parts, they’ve even proven to perform more openly and freely without feeling the group-pressure in their necks. Mark McGuire, for instance, has perfected his art of combining melodious guitar-sounds with synthesizers and looping them into vertiginous heights. While the musician from Cleveland, Ohio, always acts at the verge of „cosmic music“, his dreamy guitars follow the footsteps of Manuel Göttsching at Ash Ra Temple and his synth-work reminds us of Tangerine Dreams »No Man’s Land«. His style hasn’t changed on »Along the Way«, his debut for Dead Oceans. And yet, some things are very different: Mark McGuire is going straight into the thick of things, which is why he doesn’t only layer sound on sound but also puts them next to each other. Meaning: Until now, Mark McGuire has managed to avoid the esoterics-trap, in which many of the new-age-musicians have fallen before. This time, he’s walked straight into it. If you imagine Mark McGuire’s music as a glass filled with water, in which the filling level is well balanced, think of him constantly refilling the glass this time. Take »The War of Consciousness« as an example: It has the perfect amount of his usual synth-guitars-mix but he has also added some electronic sounds – still light enough to not cause any confusion, yet. What follows is heavy piano-pathos, played with the romantic gesture of a Richard Claydermann or a Rondo Veneziano; a few more string-imitating synths are being put on top (only brass-imitating synthesizers are even worse!), and – while we’re at it?! – why not underlay it all with a few fresh beats? A rhetorical question, of course. And still, I want to answer it: Because it hurts! The only reason why »Along The Way« still passes as a good record is due to Mark McGuire’s incredible musical touch. Still, for the future, we should remind him of the simple truth that less often turns out to be more, in the end.

You can find »Along The Way« by Mark McGuire at hhv.de on LP.
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