Jeffrey Alexander is perhaps best known as the founding member of San Francisco’s kosmic folk collective Dire Wolves. Whilst that group have made several albums of spiralling grooviness, we admittedly had missed Alexanders solo work.
Reyes, the new album by Jeffery Alexander had us somehow initially expecting a fairly straightforward solo guitar record, but quickly and thankfully it’s anything but. Whilst the whole album is birthed via Alexanders’ strings, things quickly grow more interesting, forming into an event where you quickly realise, someone, maybe you, might just have been spiked…
Woozy Master starts the album off – the word woozy somehow embeds twinkling kosmic ripples in your brain like a pre-flight upgrade. We are hanging in thick space from the very start, and then Perpetual Sunrise rises up like the most beautiful goddess encrusted imagining of Pink Floyd’s Grantchester Meadows for almost 4 achingly beautiful minutes. Quickly, you’re in an altered place.
Blue Flower seeps through the pores of some funky record that’s half melted into fragrant sweet paste, everything is off centre but still together just enough to wobble forward. Sky Camp describes a bigger space, like the title tracing some raptor as they scan the heat baked scrub in huge thermal arcs.
Sets of Seven throws up another tape dragging mess of elements grouped into approximate bundles, and every track bravely juxtaposes against its neighbour. By Natural Velocity marries up the sounds of a workshop with the sleepy folds of riverbank guitar. The whole thing feels pregnant with natural clutter as slowly revealed loops and ghostly melodies solidify out of almost nothing.
Hazy Head dusts Spanish guitar curls against wonky unbalanced electronics and perhaps even buried vocal smudges heading slowly and indistinctly into some gently ecstatic reverie. But as with all great albums, these oddly invigoratingly mangled slices of guitarism have all been in preparation for Reyes stunning 8-minute finale.
Perpetual Sunset fully realise the woozy promise of the opener as the guitar pattern slowly distorts and folds into itself like the record is absorbing itself into an analogue glitched outrageously psychedelic vision. It’s a track that begs to relax into the almost nausea of its form, revealing an abstract perfection at its very heart.
It’s clear as this twisted marvel eventually fades, Alexander is doing far more than finger picking his way through a 41-minute block of music. These patterns and textures could have been more conveniently presented and would have been perfectly pleasant but what makes Reyes so incredible is how spaced out these forms get when placed in these potent and twisted places. These tracks might have a starry night porch vibe at their heart, but feels like they all only truly blossomed after weird spores started growing over them back at the secret lab.
Reyes is a uniquely and deeply psychedelic album and it’s hard not to feel it starting to burrow into your brain from the very first listen. Over time its disorientating quality becomes more and more remarkable. Ultimately though, whatever is actually happening is accessible with nothing headier than an open mind. The only super active ingredient here is the music itself, and its form is clearly very strong and hallucinatory.
Proceed with caution, possibly not when you are driving, but definitely do proceed…
Reyes is out now on Garden Portal