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Mystic Chords of Memory

Mystic Chords of Memory

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Album Review

Mystic Chords of Memory is Chris Gunst of Beachwood Sparks, and Jen Cohen of the Aislers Set. This album grew out of Gunst's frustration with his band, the music industry, and music itself, so it is no surprise that it is a more intimate, muted affair than a Beachwood Sparks disc. It has the feel of a classic bedroom/basement recording — which is to say, relaxed and free of pressure. Gunst sounds happy and mellow. He still manages to evoke the sprawling, cosmic sense of grandeur that the Sparks did but on a much smaller, more personal level. A track like "Golden Dome," with its spiraling violins, toy-town keyboards, and searching vocal from Gunst sound like B. Sparks boiled down to its very essence. The sweetly chiming "Sure Bert," the tripped-out and spacy "Eyes on Sides of Heads," and the Joe Meek-on-Mars "Mongo and Arky" are highlights as well. Gunst's wispy vocals sound less affected in the low-key context. He never seems to be straining as he sometimes did in Beachwood Sparks. He doesn't miss his old mates much either as Cohen's role throughout is subtle but very important as she adds lovely backing vocals and helps out on bass, keyboards, and drums. Beachwood Sparks fans may have been saddened by the demise of the group, but with the Tyde and now Mystic Chords of Memory, they should rejoice because there are now two bands born of the split, each as good as if not better than the original group.

Biography

Formed: 2002 in Santa Cruz, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Beachwood Sparks amicably parted ways in 2002, at which point Christopher Gunst and his new girlfriend, former Aislers Set member Jen Cohen, moved to Santa Cruz. Gunst was enrolled in grad school, training to become a special education teacher, but he continued doodling around on his guitars and keyboards when he wasn't in the classroom. Cohen would pitch in, and their informal jams quickly turned into serious writing sessions. Rough Trade approached Gunst at this point, seemingly out of the blue,...
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Mystic Chords of Memory, Mystic Chords of Memory
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