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Noctilucence

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Album Review

Just about a year after breaking camp with long-running drone trio Emeralds, guitarist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Mark McGuire arrived with Along the Way in February of 2014. The album, another entry into an already lengthy solo catalog, was by and large McGuire's most ambitious offering; a dense and soul-searching album of pastoral instrumentals and rich tones that branched far off from his regular Kraut-drone guitar loops and acoustic meditations. Mere months after Along the Way was released, the Noctilucence EP arrived, wandering several different paths on each of its five songs. "EP" is something of a misnomer in this case, since two of the five tracks pass the 12-minute mark and the entire collection has a running time longer than a lot of albums made by McGuire's more punk and indie contemporaries. The bubbly electronic wash of first track "Freedom of Spirit" finds pleasant ambience and deeply buried Panda Bear-esque vocals stumbling around in a narcotic haze for a building three minutes before an old-school drum machine beat kicks in, tying together the song's various synth basslines. The lengthy title track recalls the humid, Tangerine Dream soundtrack-evoking work Emeralds was exploring in their last days, with McGuire's guitar solos ripping through the lurking electronics and firecracker drum samples. By the end of the tranquil, long-lingering album closer "Astral Protection," Noctilucence has proven to be just as ambitious as the career-defining aspirations of Along the Way, but it's a far less cohesive statement. The wayward distractions each of the five tunes holds are all fantastic on their own, but don't connect with as much energy or purpose as the compositions that made their full-length predecessor so bright. Nonetheless, McGuire's instrumental voice is strong in different ways through each piece and stretches his muse just a bit further with every track.

Biography

Born: December 31, 1986 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Prolific experimental musician Mark McGuire makes ambient collages while working under a variety of names, including Sun Watcher and Peoples Parties, and side by side with Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never as Skyramps. The former member of droney Cleveland trio Emeralds used a four-track along with his loop pedals for 2009's Losing Sleep, which combined synthesizer and television samples with layers of delayed guitar arpeggios. The same year also saw him release literally dozens of limited-edition...
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Noctilucence, Mark McGuire
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