Chris Schlarb: Psychic Temple  

Asthmatic Kitty

Despite its outré trappings (Schlarb's history with his avant-garde group I Heart Lung, and the title which sounds like the name of a shitty Brooklyn psych-improv band), Psychic Temple retains a striking approachability. But it ain't easy listening, either. This ish is - how did Goldilocks put it? - juuuust right. Schlarb, Long Beach, Calif., experimentalist extraordinaire, and his impressive list of guests (Mike Watt, Julianna Barwick, etc.) have constructed a splendorous work that requires more from its audience than just a surface listen. Let's be honest: The album-as-art piece is rare these days (though one might argue it's on the upswing, with heroic new joints from Sufjan Stevens and Kanye West, to name two very disparate but mainstream examples). Schlarb's microscopic attention to detail, heard in the beautiful, repetitious folk-jazz melodies of tracks like "Dream State > Police State," is a byproduct of his intense and exceptional focus on the whole. (4 out of 5 stars)

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