Guardian Alien

Spiritual Emergency

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With the phrase "Do not listen to this record unless you are in an altered state" appearing above the track list, Guardian Alien fully embrace the spirit of psychedelic rock on their second album, Spiritual Emergency. Where their Thrill Jockey debut, 2012's See the World Given to a One Love Entity, threw listeners directly into the deep end of the sensory deprivation chamber, this album finds the experimental ensemble taking a more drawn-out approach. The album's opener, "Tranquilizer," feels like that exactly, as it lulls the listener into a dissociative state with its glitched-out vocals and hypnotic percussion creating a rhythm that seems to exist without a beginning or an end. From there it feels as though Guardian Alien are attempting to further confuse and captivate the listener as the album goes through a number of odd twists, turns, and cul de sacs before eventually settling in for its titular track, the sprawling "Spiritual Emergency," a 20-minute foray that revisits the mesmerizing qualities of the first track while continually playing with tempo. These shifts in speed give the song an ebb and flow that helps the wandering track remain engaging as Guardian Alien explore and improvise their way through its psychedelic landscapes. Despite its more structured composition, Spiritual Emergency feels more disjointed than the band's previous, free-flowing effort. After absorbing the record, however, it's clear that the broken, disconnected flow is by design, and Guardian Alien's experiment with structure pays off with another album of mind-bending headphone candy.

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