Phosphorescent – Muchacho
Celebrated for his introspective, country-tinged Americana off the back of albums like 2010's Here's To Taking It Easy, fans of Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent, may be surprised by the subtle shades of electronica permeating his fifth release. Opening and closing themes Sun Arise! (An Invocation, An Introduction) and Sun Arising (A Koan, A Exit) set the tone, with Houck's multi-tracked voice resting on a bed of warm synth tones.
Song For Zula is the most successful splicing of the two styles, with looped strings and gentle drums underpinning a plaintive but uplifting country croon from Houck. Terror In The Canyons (Wounded Master) is more familiar territory, with pedal steel and traditional instrumentation, but it's a trifle bland – a feeling that plagues several more of the less memorable cuts. Experimental and ambitious, the album's highlights are sublime, even if the rest feels somewhat lost in the desert. [Ilya Kuryakin]