Plankton Wat

Spirits

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Plankton Wat's 2012 effort on Thrill Jockey comes after a slew of releases on smaller labels, a now well-established path for performers releasing a stream of efforts on cassettes and CD-Rs and the like -- and given that Dewey Mahood has also been working in a number of other guises and projects, it's even more of a complicated background than might be thought. But Spirits has the advantage of sounding like an enjoyable guitar-based drone-and-zone effort in its own right regardless of everything else Mahood has already done, not least of which is due to a certain bright tone throughout the album. It's almost as if a spirit that was evident in the fragmenting years of Spacemen 3 -- as Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce turned individually from rock overload to a glistening ecstasy -- comes into its own right here, showing that modern psychedelia can exist in a spot that's not simply feedback burnout. Certainly, the opening track, "Evening Sky," starts out as a contemplative guitar noodle and darker tones, but by the time "Cape Meares" moves toward capturing a more fragile, slightly forlorn state, there's also a feeling of wistful hope. Call it something appropriate, too, for the unsettled years just prior to its release, perhaps. Yet hearing the huge phased drone of "Vista" feel like something uplifting, or appreciating the acoustic-led "Fabric of Life" for a similar sense of rising light, and it's as if Mahood were not merely about a trance-like invocation but an actual progression, or a possibility of one. That's not to say there's no brooding power on songs like the drum-machine shuffle-driven title track, turning all the more imposing as it goes, but it's not an end unto itself.

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