Japan’s Guruguru Brain have steadily built themselves up as a well of great new psychedelia from the Pacific Rim. Their latest pickup is Hanoi’s J. William Parker, a man with no reputation and little press to his name. They found him from a fully formed demo that’s been forged pretty much unchanged into Shadowmen. What he lacks in fanfare though, Parker makes up for in home-recorded psych-folk spirit. The record is flecked with the hallmarks of loner folk’s high halls, shades of Jansch, Drake, Spence, Ted Lucas and Masaki Batoh; but he moves further into the dark halls of shut-in territory on his spectral instrumentals that bounce around like faded memories throughout the album.
When he eases back the cardboard boom mic reverberations though he gets some crisp sounds, that if not necessarily on par with his ’70s influences as far as clarity, have a great deal of the same mournful romanticism that’s endeared the loner soul to audiences for years. When he truly goes for the psych-out, Parker finds himself on comfortable footing, as on “The Stranger,” a highlight that pushes his frantic energy well past the limits of his modest setup. On Shadowmen Parker may just be getting started and the studio may find him some welcome comfort and new experimental fortitude as he progresses. Or, this may be one of those one-off gems that endures because it acts as encapsulation of a time and place, rescued from the bins like white label pressings plucked from obscurity in the past couple of years. Either way, its an oddly comforting find that lends its credence to the kind of ears that run the game over at Guruguru Brain for sure.
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