Guitarist/composer/loop god Mark McGuire has released enough music alone and in collaboration since the mid aughts to fill a whole shelf of your collection, but we haven’t had a proper solo album from him since 2011’s Get Lost. In the wake of Emeralds’ last album and subsequent dissolution, McGuire took time to flesh out his DJ Road Chief moniker, offering us remixes of Zapp and Dawn Richard that served as compelling looks into his soul/R&B fixations and developing studio practices. With upcoming full-length album Along the Way, it seems like McG fans can expect material more in line with his deep canon of guitar-driven work — though with some notable additions. Synths and electronic beats popped up in the little heralded, excellent pair of EPs he self-released in late 2012 — Nightshade and Surrogate Channels — but the recently surfaced “The Instinct (Extended 12” Version)” pushed his expanded palette out of the Zone and into a dance-floor friendly territory of 80s electro/arena-rock worship. If that track exploited multi-instrumental overdubs in pursuit of a maxed-out, nocturnal euphoria, “In Search of The Miraculous” finds McGuire utilizing the same tactics in a more focused, intimate session. He coaxes a wide array of tones out of his expanded rig: a bed of chiming guitar loops, koto-like pentatonic plucks, gurgling synth sequences, and low-end pads to fill out the backdrop. McGuire has sung on record before, but his vocalizations here feel more natural than ever, owing, perhaps, to their placement in the mix as a melodic buffer behind other developing leads (catalog highlight “Dream Team” features similar vocal strategies).
McGuire’s strongest suit — aside from his infinite capacity for cosmic shreddery — has always been his attention to structure and pacing. As in his most memorable compositions, elements fall into place here in such a satisfying sequence; hear, for example, the overlapping distorted leads that hit halfway in, pushing everything up into the realm of the sublime. By the end of the track, the accumulated tones breathe together with a bright, consonant energy, and I’m left here hoping that the album sees the light of day real soon, maybe even before summer hits.