Those fond of Mark McGuire’s role as axe man of much loved, badly missed band Emeralds may have found his sci-ﬁ leaning Beyond Belief a bit jarring, a bit full on.
It may come as a relief (or not) that the Ohio native’s latest, Ideas of Beginnings, sees him not just return to the rolling, endless guitar loops of his early work, and in particular the inﬁnite quality his guitar work brought to Emeralds, but strips it all down largely to only the bare necessities.
The main difference is that the guitars here are acoustic. And he largely keeps indulgences to branch out into other worlds well and truly in check. Melodies seem simpler, less ambitious. There’s still the night-crawling, Michael Mann-ish, night-drive solos. But there’s also half a dozen primitive exercises in acoustic strumming and melody looping.
McGuire might have dreamed some of these up in one take. And many of these sketches could in the past have been developed into the 10 minute odysseys McGuire is so revered for. But restraint, succinctness and keeping it simple seems to be the order of the day.
Highlight To Continue deploys a familiar burbling guitar loop and takes all of two minutes to get epic, when in the past suspense may have drawn out for several times longer.
Snarling licks burn brightly on By The Light of the Freezing Pond. And somewhere out there in the desert, McGuire is standing atop a 10 m stack of amps, shredding.
Perhaps it speaks to the stamp McGuire puts on his own music, that with an acoustic guitar and a keep-it-simple stupid methodology his records still sound undeniably him, but with more restraint.
It’s as though there’s a collection of notes that when assembled together belong only to him.
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