Mystic 100s, “First Day of Peace (Short Version)” (Listening House)
Mystic 100's* spent much of the 2010s working under the moniker Milk Music, releasing two albums of ambitious, non-cookie-cutter punk, prairie psychedelia, and brawny, inspirational rock that drew comparisons to Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr., Meat Puppets, and the Wipers. The Olympia-based group—now a sextet—changed their name and allegedly upped their acid intake, and now they have the mind-expanding double album to prove it.
The exploratory expansiveness of songs such as “Dramatic Exit” and “Mystic 100's” from 2017's Mystic 100's hinted at the direction of On a Micro Diet (released March 31). At nine tracks and 75 minutes, the album will present challenges for those afflicted with short attention spans. But people who value the transportive properties of long-form composition and instrumental ingenuity will dig what Mystic 100's are laying down here.
The title track's a tease at 10 minutes. Imagine those venerable proto-jam bands Television and the Grateful Dead tag-teaming your pineal glands with spacey twin-guitar peregrinations (by Alex Coxen and Dave Harris), at once crystalline and wah-wah'd into rococo solos that'll make your ears spin. Mystic 100's have tapped into a vein of bliss that only the elite psychonauts can attain. “Have You Ever Chased a Lightbeam?” presents 19 minutes of sparse, serpentine guitar that may trigger memories of Neil Young's “Down by the River”—never a bad thing. “Food for the Boogieman” consists pretty much of a beautifully smeared guitar solo, akin to British folkadelic deity John Martyn on 'shrooms. It's a headphone trip to the outer zones of consciousness.
As great as those tracks are, “First Day of Peace (Short Version)” nudges them out for the top prize. It's a beatific choogle, very subtly groovy and hypnotic, twinklingly enhanced by Charles Waring's warm, piquant bass line and what I'm going to guess is an electric keyboard played by Abby Dahlquist. Imagine a slow-motion version of German psych-rock titans Ash Ra Tempel's “Laughter Loving”; it's an absolutely spellbinding end to a startling debut album.
*Please note that apostrophes represent possession not plurality, so this name can be construed as ungrammatical.
Colloboh, “Mystic You” (Leaving)
If you're like most Westerners, you can count the number of African-born ambient-music producers whose material you've heard on one hand. For me, shamefully, it's KMRU and, uh... Colloboh (aka Collins Oboh). A Nigerian native now based in Los Angeles, which is also the home of his label, Leaving, run by neo-New Age musician Matthewdavid, Colloboah came to my attention with 2021's Entity Relation EP. That release engages in intricate rhythms, pretty melodies, and glassy, synthetic textures reminiscent of British IDM stalwarts Plaid.
Colloboh's new EP, Saana Sahel, is on a whole other trip, though. Not many contemporary, young producers include covers of Claude Debussy and Gabriel Fauré joints (“Arabesque No. 1” and “Pavane, Op. 50,” respectively) on their releases, but Colloboh is far from typical. “Acid Sunrise” is minimalist, string-driven melodrama that gets increasingly chaotic as it goes.
“Higher Ground” is not a Stevie Wonder cover, but rather a low-lit jazz-fusion fantasia that gradually intensifies into an explosive drum solo by Mekala Session before it downshifts into warped, oneiric ambience. The sparkling, beatless dream-pop of “Full Embrace” features the diaphanous vocals of one eye to eye and floats somewhere between those interstitial parts on My Bloody Valentine's Loveless and a Cocteau Twins demo. Stunning.
The EP's first single, “Mystic You,” pulsates with Session's chill cha-cha pulse and light rimshots, but it's primarily a scented bubble bath of sparkling synth burbles and Qur'an Shaheed's luscious scat vocals. Colloboh swirls these pacific, glittery elements into a slow-motion whirlwind of wonder. The man proves himself to be a master of controlled, logical chaos.
On a side note, Colloboh opens for legendary composer/analog-synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani in Denver on May 27. That's a helluva prestigious gig for a relative newcomer, and a testament to his lofty skills.