RV Paintings 'Samoa Highway' (Helen Scarsdale, 2010)

When a slow progression of tragic piano chords make themselves known in the latter stages of the opener Millions, it becomes strikingly clear that this is not just another forest dwelling, cannabis fueled test of one's patience. Although weed, I'm sure, played its crucial role. But no. The psychedelia on Samoa Highway is one of burning crescendos and bowed string canopies. Voice, piano, and even aircrafts play a role in carving out these pieces. Take for example the exemplary opening track, a nearly side-long slow burn whose undercurrent of rewound guitars meshed with distant drumming, firework explosions and jet take-offs drag the listener through the course of history in reverse; to a time predating civilization.

Oddly enough, the lack of obfuscation in the field recordings that Jon and Brian Pyle utilize, works solely to their advantage. A plethora of phonographers would have likely chosen to blur these lines a bit more, ostensibly, to lesser results. The opening of Mirrors brings to mind an obvious Stars of the Lid reference, but is quickly wiped away by a plague of unearthly echoes and synth fissures. Contortions then give way to distortion. On From Manila to Forever the guitars play out like a row of tolling church bells, setting up the melancholia of As Far As We Could See, the final track. The mood stands uninterrupted atop the careening of skittered percussion that brings to an end an album that, although lacking in the level of conceptual continuity that a lot of the HS releases possess, still manages to provoke any of a number of hallucinatory states of mind. Or maybe that's just the weed talking.

This is the first vinyl offering from Helen Scarsdale and the third official release by the RV Paintings duo. Brian Pyle is perhaps better known as one of the founders of Starving Weirdos. He also records solo as Ensemble Economique.

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