You're Only as Good as Your Sound

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The first release by Drop City member Matthew Tow's side project, perhaps unsurprisingly, slots into the dreamy, druggy post-Spacemen 3 vibe of Tow's main band. The distinction is mostly in song length -- while there are only five tracks, most break the ten-minute mark easily. This is another album with nothing new, per se, to bring to the listener, but it does a fantastic job of reworking familiar touchstones with skill and a smile. Tow works with some guests to create his Colorsound work, most notably Simon Holmes on melodica, guitar, and other effects, but otherwise it's all him and his sweetly blissful work. Guitar mantras, keyboard drones, lush layering of sounds, steady percussion, and more all define the opening cut "Help Me to Understand (Finding My Way)," setting the mood perfectly. The Spacemen 3 connection is perhaps even more explicit, though the general sound actually echoes Sonic Boom's own contemporaneous release as Spectrum's Highs, Lows & Heavenly Blows. "Olympic White," the third track, steers away from the overall atmosphere, with acoustic guitar given a soft reverb but played in a more explicitly fingerpicked style. Seagulls and wave noises loop throughout, giving everything more of a new age-gone-good sheen. "Silver City" returns back to the steady, drone-inflected offerings on display earlier, with Tow taking hushed lead vocals over the slow layering of further electric sounds and washes over the central, simply strummed and repeated acoustic guitar figure. Halfway through a series of full reverb and flange loops take over entirely, sending everything off into total psych-out mode via additional screeching feedback before suddenly reprising the gentle start of the song. "Shine On (Backward Reprise)" closes things out with, unsurprisingly, backwards tapes and sonics, while an untitled bonus track consists of loops and squalls of feedback moving from speaker to speaker over random TV samples. It demands nothing more than to simply let yourself go -- and why not?

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