To create a real instruments, real players version of one of Eno's most successful tape loop experiments is genius on its own. To bring the thing off to such an extent that it not only captures but somehow adds to the quiet yet expansive minimalism of the original is almost too much to bear. It's magical.
We forget to breathe. So Psychic Temple gives us breathing space.
Music director Chris Schlarb – a Long Beach guitarist whose career has ranged from jazz to video-game soundtracks – prepares Psychic Temple’s open atmosphere for maximum spatial opportunities.
Unrestricted by complex chord changes, the musicians resonate with Schlarb’s own unhurried, carefully articulated mode of improvisation. And Psychic Temple’s special gravity pulls strongly enough to unite such diverse players as progressive metal guitarist Paul Masvidal (Cynic, Death), jamming postpunk bassist Mike Watt (Minutemen, Stooges) and lyrical trumpeter Kris Tiner (Empty Cage, Wadada Leo Smith).
Schlarb cast the musicians like actors in a film. “I listen. If a director chooses the right players, he doesn’t need to micromanage them.”
Together, they make room for forgetting, room for reflection, so the listener can’t help being drawn into the ceremony. Even the instrument sounds themselves put us at ease in a comfortable womb where a deep-plowing baritone sax (Curt Oren) might remind us of a Supremes hit, or a Hammond organ (Philip Glenn) might recall Jimmy Smith’s soul saturation, or a Wurlitzer electric piano (Cathlene Pineda) might make us flash on a galactic Miles Davis abstraction. Even Schlarb’s preferred mode of sound reproduction, 12-inch vinyl, encourages escape from congestion and routine – we won’t be listening to an LP in our cars.
This Psychic Temple album was recorded in one afternoon, live in the studio without headphones, overdubs, edits or effects, and Schlarb used the second take of each performance. To orchestrate the flow and enhance the mood, Schlarb employed a system of changing lights as the music developed. It’s a tribute to the players’ sensitivity and the music’s balance that despite the simple recording methods, each instrument sounds warm and present.
Schlarb has long loved the first movement of Brian Eno’s 1979 ambient landmark Music for Airports: “It’s like patient jazz improvisation, with a surprising, organic quality that reminds me of the Bill Evans Trio with Paul Motian and Scott LaFaro. Unfortunately, like jazz, it has become a museum piece, something to be analyzed by select musicians inside expensive concert halls. I wanted to rescue it from that dark, boring fate.”
Psychic Temple approaches “Airports” from a fresh angle. Where it was hard to imagine tuning in to Eno’s distant, static beauty amid the real-life chaos of check-in, the edgy competition of boarding and the weary tedium of baggage claim, Schlarb brings a more human fugue to the experience. We can feel we’re all in it together, we can make room for one another, and we’re calm.
Schlarb and drummer Tabor Allen conceived their “Music for Bus Stops” as a working man’s counterpart to “Airports.” Yes, the music says, we’re going somewhere. Maybe it’s hot, maybe the traffic’s noisy, but carried along by the brisk groove, the refractive Quicksilver guitar and a mirage of softly massed horn riffs, do we care when the bus arrives?
Not really. The Psychic Temple can remain in our heads wherever we go.
- Greg Burk, November 2015
released April 29, 2016
Tabor Allen - drums
Philip Glenn - Hammond organ
Danny T. Levin - trombonium, euphonium, marching baritone, valve trombone
Paul Masvidal - electric guitar
Curt Oren - baritone saxophone
Cathlene Pineda - Wurlitzer electric piano
Sheridan Riley - drums & percussion
Chris Schlarb - electric guitar
Kris Tiner - trumpet
David Tranchina - double bass
Mike Watt - electric bass
Produced and arranged by Chris Schlarb
Mixed by Ronan Chris Murphy at BIG EGO, Long Beach, CA.
Engineered by Jeff Lewis
Assistant Engineered by Steve Krolikowski, Devin O'Brien, and Felipe Navarro Delgadillo
Recorded at All Welcome Records, Inglewood, CA. on Sunday, August 16th, 2015
"Music For Airports 1/1" written by Brian Eno, Rhett Davies, & Robert Wyatt
Published by BMG/Universal (BMI)
"Music For Bus Stops 1/1" written by Tabor Allen & Chris Schlarb
Published by Possibilities At Sea Songs and Music (ASCAP) & Interstellar Music Holdings of the Psychic Temple (ASCAP)
Administered by Little Brother Music Publishing