MV & EE – Space Homestead

January 01, 1970

(Woodsist)

 

www.woodsist.com/

 

 Longtime musical partners, and
multi-instrumentalists Matt Valentine and Erica Elders, over the last decade
have cranked out more than 33 albums. Some, simply playing as a duo, others
playing with assembled groups with such monikers as The Medicine Show, The
Golden Road and the Bummer Road.  J Mascis
regularly sits in as drummer on some of these outings, and they can count
Thurston Moore among their cheerleaders and fans. The prolific psych-folk duo
hail from Vermont, and by all accounting, they seem to have some pretty heady
maple syrup up there. Their songs reflect some Appalachian folksy influence,
coupled with Grateful Dead-like cosmic noodling. There’s one foot firmly
planted in rural Vermont and the other way out there in some spacey dimension,
apropos this album’s name, Space
Homestead
. For as much music as I listen to, I find myself returning over
and over again to replay some of their past releases like Green Blues, Getting’ Gone, Barn Nova and Meet Snake Pass: And
Other Human Conditions.

 

All in all, though Space Homestead is slightly less industrious than those previous
releases, it does live up to its title of being spacey. Its spaced-out odyssey
beings with “Common Ground,” complete with lots of echoey vocals, wah-wah
effects and dreamy, stretched out guitar embellishments.  “Moment” continues the opiated atmosphere
with breathless, floating vocalizations by Erica amid twinkling guitars and
multiple ethereal effects. The following number, “Porchlight,” is where the
trip shifts ominously from feeling groovy to bummer. The first half of the
eight-minute song is a multi-tracked soundscape of the aforementioned
experimental cosmic noodling and noise that makes you lurch for the ‘Forward’
button.  From there, “Shit’s Creek”
almost comes across as a straightforward backwoods tune, with a simple acoustic
guitar riff with harmonica. This is accompanied by occasional rhythmic tapping
of something like a pen on a mic, along with the soft sound of from what appears
to be a Tibetan horn.

 

From there, the album really hits its stride,
re-entering familiar MV & EE territory on the final four songs.

 “Sweet
Sure Gone” has the familiarity of earlier songs they’ve spun, while also
sounding very much like a slowed down version of Lou Reed’s “Charley’s Girl”
melody. “Too Far To See” is pretty much what people buy their albums for, very
beautiful, otherworldly music that you float away on. Lovely playing is also
present on “Wasteland” – another tune that seems familiar enough to have been
on a previous album – which soars to the realm of the exquisite. Finishing up
the album is “Workingman’s Smile,” with some of the guitar parts bringing
Garcia’s tender string picking to mind. The intertwining guitar parts are
complex and showcase the duo at their best.

 

For you kids out there planning to attend
space camp, I can’t think of better counselors than Elders and Valentine to
take you far out where few have journeyed before. It’s difficult to say,
though, if your mode of transportation is an interstellar vehicle or simply a
sickly-sweet, resinous cloud.

 

STANDOUT TRACKS: “Wasteland,” “Too Far To See,” and “Sweet Sure
Gone.”  BARRY ST. VITUS

 

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