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MJ Guider: Precious Systems

Track List

>Lit Negative
>Triple Black
>Surfacing First
>White Alsatian
>Second Surface
>Former Future Beings
>Their Voices Clear Now
>Evencycle
>Fiction Control

Album Notes

A welcome addition to the Kranky roster, MJ Guider is the recording moniker of a New Orleans-based musician named Melissa Guion. Her spacious, echo-heavy guitars and ethereal vocals easily bring to mind labelmates like Grouper, but Guion's melodies seem a bit more informed by pop music, and her songs have a bit more rhythmic propulsion to them, with or without her ticking drum machines. MJ Guider was first introduced to the world via the excellent tape label Constellation Tatsu, which issued her Green Plastic mini-album in 2014. While that release was a fine introduction, her proper full-length debut, Precious Systems, is a vast leap forward. It has a much fuller sound, with the beats and vocals more up-front while the drifting guitars retain their wide-open vastness. There's a greater range of styles here, too, from floating beatless tunes (such as "Second Surface," which should be way longer than its two minutes) to the shimmering ambient techno of the ten-minute "Evencycle," which could easily be a remix by the Field. Opener "Lit Negative" feels heavy yet weightless, like a highly focused sleepwalk. "Triple Black" tips in the direction of goth/post-punk, with more urgent, tense beats and bass guitar, but there's a sweetness to the vocals that keeps it from being too dark. "Former Future Beings" builds an enveloping drone out of pianos and multi-tracked vocals, but its resounding bass guitar keeps it grounded in rhythm, even if it feels like you're just imagining that there's a beat driving the song. Closing number "Fiction Control" is lovelorn dream pop, with pulsating beats guiding its aching vocal melody and urgent guitars. Precious Systems is a remarkable album that touches on a lot of familiar aspects of droney ambient pop, but combines them into something new and original. ~ Paul Simpson



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