Steven Wray Lobdell - "Automatic Writing By The Moon" (Holy Mountain)

From Aural Innovations #14 (January 2001)

The Portland, Oregon-based guitarist for Faust (pretty much ever since they decided to get back together in the studio with 'Rien'), steersman of bands such as Sufi Mind Game and Davis Redford Triad, Baseball Astrologer's backup musician etc., steps out for a moment to do his own thing. Obviously a one-man show, this album concisely draws together many of Lobdell's disparate styles into a pleasently atmospheric package. The recordings are built up of layered, frequently interweaving, guitars of varied textures (sometimes the ideal balance between cleanly-ringing and fuzzed-out, or between down-to-earth dry and spacily delayed), keyboards & noises (forwards & backwards), bells, and other percussives. Although most tracks emphasize the guitars, ranging from the sheets of acoustics on the first part of the title track to the backwards feedback/fuzz of "Uranian Wind", others, like "Lids of Pot" and "Automatic Writing... #2", are purely percussive, with ringing bells and shaking rattles - metal is very much the medium throughout the album. Varied rhythms range from jazzy swing to cosmic pulse; "All Mystics Are Numbered" is propelled by a Neuish bass and prominent backwards cymbal[?]. Other standout tracks include "Pluto in Retrograde", which could almost be an instrumental space-folk piece from one of the first two Hawkwind albums, and "The Departure", with a Sergio Leone western sound, rainstick beating out horsehoof patterns. The thirteen fairly short pieces pass by quickly, maintaining a consistent atmosphere of spacious serenity throughout, despite their intruiging diversity.

For more information contact Holy Mountain; PO Box 420511; San Francisco, CA 94142.

Reviewed by Doug Pearson

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