In addition to curating a psychedelic sojourn in Texas each year, Mexican Summer’s Marfa Myths festival produces a collaborative piece that serves as universal souvenir, even for those not able to make it down to the sunbaked namesake in any given year. In the past this has offered up collab slabs from Conan Mockasin/Dev Hines and Ariel Pink/Weyes Blood respectively, both fair pieces in their own right. On the eve of the upcoming festival the label releases the fruits of last year’s team up and this one hits me harder than either of the previous two, combining the talents of Woods (Jeremy Earl and Jarvis Taveniere) and Dungen (Gustav Ejstes and Reine Fisk), two longtime favorites here.
On paper that seems like it has to work, and for the most part this is an overtly successful blending of the two bands’ styles. It could be said that Woods have been moving towards more complex arrangements with each release, and to that end the addition of Dungen’s lush songwriting style both fits and isn’t too far a jump. When the two bands really dig into each other’s styles, though, the record soars. The opener serves essentially as an instrumental Dungen track, occupying the same space that the band has built out in their catalog over the years for the kind of soaring flute and kush psychedelics that beg the listener to lean back into their fawning embrace. Likewise, the second track “Turn Around” feels like a Woods song with a bit more padding – a good Woods song mind you, but not one that feels like it might be out of place on their last couple of albums. Only the lingering flute lends a wink of Gustav Ejstes’s fingerprints on the song.
But as they eke into the second instrumental of the set, the aptly titled “Marfa Sunset,” the two bands begin to smelt their strengths into a bubbling psychedelia that’s twisting with Woods’ effects bent past and Dungen’s smooth ‘70s glow. Once they begin to melt Jeremy Earl’s falsetto into a cloud of echo and the two singers go for harmonies, then the record blossoms into the potential offered up by the premise. The culmination of the album becomes an oasis from the Texan heat, glittering with a dew-soaked psychedelia that’s nourishing to the soul. The high point “Jag Ville Va Kvar” offers doubled returns on any listener’s investment, elevating this far beyond party favor and into favored canon for both artists. The past installments have been worth a pop in, but this collaboration gives good argument to the festival as incubator for one-off dream teams.
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