The driving force behind Desertshore is the partnership between guitarist Phil Carney and keyboard player Chris Connolly. The former has played with both of sadcore king Mark Kozelek's bands, Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, and the latter has a classical background, though he also loves the gauzy, ethereal indie rock sounds that came out of England's 4AD label (which was also home to Red House Painters). With third man Dave Muench on drums and a couple of guests (including Kozelek), Carney and Connolly made Desertshore's all-instrumental debut album a place where all their varied influences intertwine. The album's title offers a hint about the mood of the music -- Drifting Your Majesty maintains a haunting, dreamlike quality throughout its 14 tracks. Though these pieces are not without dynamics, they remain on the impressionistic, ethereal side, whether it's an intimate duet between Connolly and Carney that's taking place, or something more fully fleshed out with rhythm section and second guitar. As the tunes gently rise and fall, they roll rather seamlessly through a wide array of styles, blending psychedelia, post-rock, and international touches. Sometimes these tracks evoke the mellower, more contemplative circa end-of-1969 Neil Young or Grateful Dead improvisatory expeditions (Desertshore are, after all, a Bay Area band). At other points, there are echoes of a more contemporary post-rock sound à la Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky, and occasionally, Connolly and Carney dip into some Middle Eastern-tinged modalities, suggesting some quality time spent listening to early world music-inclined ‘60s guitarists like Peter Walker and Sandy Bull. Drifting Your Majesty manifests a moody, meditative feeling, but is never monochromatic.
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AllMusic Review by James Allen