Torch of the Mystics represents the pinnacle of the first phase of the Sun City Girls. A concise, pinwheeling album that captures the band's pure commitment to emotional transcendence through music, the 11 songs here fly off into the netherworld of ethnic avant-garage rock with startling clarity. The band had never fully explored the Middle Eastern tones accumulating in their brains as they did on this 1990 masterpiece, nor had they been as clearly and smartly recorded as they are here: guitarist Rick Bishop's tone slices, drummer Charlie Gocher is wider than he has ever been, and bassist Alan Bishop rumbles with an ominous ferocity. Songs like the pile-driving "Esoterica of Abyssynia" sound like your radio has leapt into a dreamy foreign astral plane of its own volition. "Space Prophet Dogon" is a dance of the seven veils as played by the freaked-out Mothers of Invention, while "Radar 1941" crash-lands in the middle of Egyptian Top 40 as imagined by "Count Five." Every track contains a shimmering melodic phrase or haunting undertone that the Girls mine like pure manna, and the occasional bursts of delirious chanting still summon goosebumps on the listener's skin. Every argument made for the greatness of the Sun City Girls has its roots in this platter, and if you have never understood what the fuss is all about or if you ever needed something to convince you of their (deservedly) sterling underground reputation, this is the original testament.
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AllMusic Review by Patrick Foster