Rhymes of an Hour Records
Mazzy Star – never ones to rush eh…there were three fairly-perfect albums across the band’s first half-decade; they continued to tour through into the very early 2000s and then Hope Sandoval released a decent solo album and appeared on some tracks with Bert Jansch – this seemed to signal (in a typically quiet sort of way) the end of the band. And there was silence, recording-wise, until the surprise come-back of Seasons Of Your Day. Some seventeen years had passed between albums and yet it felt like Sandoval and David Roback were right back with us, and us with them. Whispery, dreamy, feathery, emotional pop music with a folkish hue. Like the Moe Tucker songs from the Velvet Underground had grown up, graduated, become sophisticated…
Well, there’s always been this crawling, creeping, softly-softly, slowly-slowly, quiet-is-the-new-loud approach and so here is a new EP, four years on. And of the four tracks only one is truly new – the short, droning title track. The final piece is an “Ascension Version” of their 1993’s album’s title track. And the first two tracks here, opener Quiet, The Winter Harbour and the bluesy, breezy, Cowboy Junkies-meets-Vanessa Paradis reverie That Way Again were both around when the band was touring in 2000.
But here, as four recordings, as an audio experience of 18 minutes, the Still EP feels lovely, warm, inviting, encouraging, if ultimately (just) a teaser.
Quiet, The Winter Harbour has Sandoval’s voice gently soaring over a piano line, it’s the sort of caged-bird torch-song that all but defines this band.
That Way Again is the highlight for me. And it’s, again, so obviously a Mazzy Star song. I might have rubbed up against it before without even noticing, but here it’s proud, regal almost – as a mellifluous guitar line recalls Mick Taylor’s Midas Touch and a late-night alt-alt-country gem glides into view; the song all but wafting past.
Still, the title song, is just two minutes. And it’s just Sandoval in near spoken-word incanting a dirge-dream over a trashy single-chord acoustic guitar fix. It’s like baby Patti Smith and works best, as the violin drones arrive, when considered an intro, or part of the longer piece that is the extended retake of So Tonight That I Might See – all shining organ and clattering, splatter-paint percussion.
Will we get more from Mazzy Star? A full album? Well, on the strengths – and comfort – of what’s here I sure hope so.
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