Cleveland-born guitarist Mark McGuire contributed to VDSQ's Solo Acoustic LP series back in 2009, when his highly acclaimed ambient group Emeralds were still actively touring and releasing records. Following dozens of solo recordings, including high-profile releases on Editions Mego and Dead Oceans, McGuire returned to VDSQ in 2017 with the full-length Ideas of Beginnings. Compared to many of his prior albums, which often contained lengthy, hypnotic excursions drawing from Krautrock and techno and featuring drum machines and vocals, Ideas seems like a collection of sketches or rough drafts. The album's first few tracks are brief acoustic pieces, usually about a minute or two each, and starkly demonstrate McGuire's keen melodic sense, sans bells and whistles. Selections such as "The Girls" seem like brief previews of the type of lush vistas observed on his main albums. "Late Summer Early Evening" is brisk and rollicking, and it stops dead after a minute and a half. McGuire adds nature sounds and gentle electric guitar beginning with "The Clock Strikes with Soft Rain," and the album's final tracks are longer and more effervescent, coming closer to the sound of most of his other albums but still appearing to be somewhat stripped back. "To Continue" and "Beginning of Winter" are reminiscent of the warm, pulsating works by Manuel Göttsching and Gunter Schickert, and seem to swiftly glide without touching the ground. "By the Light of the Freezing Pond" and "Eleven Sevens," however, are blissful washes of feedback waves. Instead of focusing on one mood or sound, McGuire uses Ideas of Beginnings to transport the listener from one state to another. As its title indicates, it's not about fully fleshed-out statements, but about possibilities.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson