MV & EE Barn Nova

[Ecstatic Peace!; 2009]

Styles: psych folk
Others: Bardo Pond, Neil Young, The Grateful Dead

MV & EE’s musical output is bipolar, one moment droning against beads and sitars and chimes, the next moment simply belting American music damp with the liquid of outer space. Evoking Jerry Garcia, Ravi Shankar, Neil Young, and Sun Ra — oftentimes all at once — each subsequent MV & EE release falls on a sliding scale of Out and In. Barn Nova, their latest for Ecstatic Peace!, falls further within the latter category than anything prior. With eight electric jams of stunning musicianship, Barn Nova isn’t trying to make any huge statements; it’s trying to establish this pocket sound, a culmination of all the aforementioned artists by which they’ve been influenced with their own idiosyncratic, unspoken sensibility — an approach that has worked since their first release.

The album opens with “Feelin’ Fine,” a track that, if you close your eyes and concentrate hard enough, could be mistaken for a Neil Young song. With all the constituent MV & EE limbs working in full effect, the song slides, plucks, smacks, jams, and whines its way into the center of your head. From there, much of the album remains the same; there’s nothing wrong with that, though it’s exactly as you can imagine it. No bold or ambitious leaps are really made until the 11-minute tunnel of space that is “Bedroom Eyes,” a clusterfuck of string interplay, cosmic vamping, and searing, psychedelic, hot Americana. Valentine’s voice is belting out words as passionate as they are indiscernible, while the song forges valleys and canyons with the steel guitar curving up and down Western tonality like an eagle. The electric guitar’s importance in this session of sound is one of otherworldly proportions, plucking into space and digging into the earth in a matter of 12 notes or less.

Dirty feet, dirty hands, and hours below the hot sun working the fields; getting high with three strangers in straw hats and flimsy loafers; growing your first beard; going to church for the first time with your friend’s family and confusedly glaring at the zeal in the eyes of these people you thought you knew — Matt Valentine’s and Erika Elder’s new release, perhaps their most versatile, seems to perfectly provide incidental coverage to any moment in a life in America.

Links: MV & EE - Ecstatic Peace!

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