Guardian Alien – Spiritual Emergency

Album Review by Sam Wiseman | 14 Jan 2014
  • Guardian Alien - Spiritual Emergency
Album title: Spiritual Emergency
Artist: Guardian Alien
Label: Thrill Jockey
Release date: 27 Jan

The third album from Greg Fox’s Guardian Alien project sees the New York avant-rock drummer joined by Alexandra Drewchin on vocals and electronics, Bernard Gann on guitar, Turner Williams on shahai baaja, and Eli Winograd on bass. The results are strikingly original, not least in the album’s structure: following the ten-minute opener Tranquilizer – an amorphous mass of twisted vocal samples and stabs of percussion – there are three relatively brief pieces, before the closing 20-minute title track.

This unorthodox approach is mirrored in Spiritual Emergency’s characteristically freeform song structures, built around the aforementioned vocal samples on the shorter pieces. It’s only really on the closer that the outfit’s post-punk/noise influences are made explicit, with Cann’s whirling squalls of distortion and Fox’s frenetic drumming recalling Rhys Chatham. Intermingling that lineage with Fox’s mystical leanings, the LP ultimately conjoins its acoustic and electronic elements in an awkward but distinctive unity.