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The Desert Soundscapes of Scenic

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The quest for modern guitar ensembles who devote themselves to exploring realms beyond Morricone will invariably find Scenic at the end of that rainbow. There are so few bands pursuing these sentiments that classifying such music is nigh impossible. Nevertheless, the surprising result is worth the exhausting search.

Prepare to be dazzled.

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SCENIC: The Acid Gospel Experience (CD on Hidden Agenda Records, distributed by Parasol)

This CD from 2003 features 73 minutes of instrumental desert soundscapes.

Scenic is: Bruce Licher (ex-Savage Republic), James Brenner (from Shiva Burlesque), Brock Wirtz, Robert Loveless (ex-Savage Republic), and Mark Mastopietro, with special guest Harold Budd on piano on a track.

Grinding multi-fuzz guitar sways into play, dominating the stage with pyrotechnic exhibitions of mesmerization. And beneath this dazzling starscape display: more guitars--growling, whirling, hissing, wailing, screeching, reverberating. It's sheer delight as the strings interweave, generating riffs of incredible depth and demeanor. Emerging from this guitar cloudburst comes a sultry sitar, describing awesome arcs of blazing radiance across the already spectacle-thick sonic panorama.

Powerful drumming and incidental percussives propel these melodies to even greater passion, guiding the fervor with engaging rhythms of lavish proportion. A bevy of electronics generates an otherworldliness in these compositions, lending mystery and wonder to the psychedelic explosion. Delicate chamberlin and glockenspiel inject fanciful airs that permeate the mix with a stately grace. Lurking in this glorious sonic mesh, basslines rumble like clever thunder-lizards hidden from view by their own immense yet subtle shadows.

In all fairness, not all the tunes erupt with frenzied delivery. Some are quite sedate, ambient studies of colorful sunsets that carefully follow each shadow as it plays across a rocky landscape of orange granite. Atmospheric keyboards fraternize with languid lap steel guitar, producing trances that transcend human consciousness, bridging life and inanimate grandeur in a fog of penultimate satisfaction. Sustains are created, then tweaked and generously teased until their resonance simultaneously scrapes the inside of your skull as elegantly as it commingles with the stratosphere. Such serenity can be ardently invigorating, though, leaving the audience drained by the experience, but filled with a fresh potency that has infused every organic molecule.

The album concludes with an epic 18 minute piece, aptly titled "A Journey through the Outer Reaches of Inner Space", which bestows exceptional clarity to a seemingly aimless meandering of guitar threads, generating an eternal bliss that is awe-inspiring to hear. The relaxed interplay of astral slide guitar, lazy bass, and comfortable rhythmics is resplendent in achieving a modern example of prime early Hawkwind improvisation.

Often described as Hawkwind-meets-Stereolab, Scenic have achieved a distinctive style of their own that erodes boredom and doldrums as effortlessly as a century's worth of wind carves etches curves into a cliffside.

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