Chris Schlarb doesn’t work in half measures. Despite bubbling under the surface, rolling out releases on Asthmatic Kitty and Joyful Noise, he’s pulled down some banner contributors on his last couple of records, including Mike Watt and Terry Reid. While last year saw him go full ambient to reinterpret Brian Eno’s Music For Airports, he’s cut the rudder back into the laconic psych-pop that permeated his previous full length, Psychic Temple III. With Reid in tow on PT IV, along with a stuffed studio of contributors, Schlarb constructs an album full of California comedown psych for unseasonably cool nights.
Schlarb has spent a lifetime picking through styles and lurking in studios and the attention to detail shows through the seams of PT IV, but only after pulling at the threads a bit. On first listen the album has an effortlessly casual quality that’s easy to sink into. After peeling through the layers the breeziness subsides to reveal a meticulously crafted album helmed by a songwriter with a producer’s heart. Stitched together with a run of interludes that make the album flow with ’70s grandiosity, Schlarb has found a way to tap into the bereaved soul at the core of adulthood’s mantle with a heavy sigh and a silken delivery.
This is far from an album of hits or singles, it’s an album that can hardly be parsed at all and that stands as its greatest achievement. Schlarb rifles the pockets of jazz, psych, country and blues to fit the pieces into a bittersweet sigh that’s stretched into forty minutes of sanctuary from the greater world. It’s’ hard to deny the draw of respite and harder still to resist returning for another dose.
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