Boomkat Product Review:
**Essential one-stop anthology of hard-to-find material by Emeralds' guitarist Mark McGuire** Since releasing their 'Does It Look Like I'm Here' LP last year, Vienna's Editions Mego has become a home away from home for Ohio space cadets Emeralds, with the band's synth wizard John Elliott operating the Spectrum Spools sub-label and guitarist Mark McGuire cutting the the solo album 'Living With Yourself' for the main imprint. The latest bit of Emeralds-related gear to land on eMego is A Young Person's Guide to Mark McGuire, an exhaustive double disc compilation of solo tracks from the prodigious axe-wielder's back catalogue. It's essentially a "best of", selected by the man himself and Mego boss Peter Rehberg, bringing together 20 tracks from disparate CD-R and cassettes released in highly limited limited editions (a mere 60 copies in one case). At the tender age of 24, McGuire has created a body of work that would put most artists twice his age to shame, and its breadth and quality is beautifully showcased across A Young Person's Guide. If you've ever listened to Emeralds then you'll recognise McGuire's guitar style instantly - mellifluous, cyclical phrases endlessly looped and delayed, frequently conjuring the kosmische grooves of Manuel Gottsching (especially on 'The Marfa Lights') and the tender, echoplexed sketches of The Durutti Column. You might think that McGuire's playing feels a little slight and naked without the synthesizer accompaniments of his Emeralds compadres, but this couldn't be further for the truth: his solo sound is muscular and expressive, satisfying the demands of psychedelia while also demonstrating a deep lyricism - this is music as emotionally resonant as it is disorientingly trippy. The overdriven squall of 'Clague Woods' summons Kevin Shields and early Cocteau Twins, while 'Stranger Than Paradise' makes us think of John Martyn’s Inside Out, and 'Radio Flyer' crackles and crinkles with the avant-folksy, autumnal beauty of Jim O'Rourke's Bad Timing. For the most part McGuire's music is gentle and comforting, but there are some terrific moments of violence and unease: the sound of a distant opera singer 'Ghosts Around A Tree 1', looped into delirium, or the ominous near-techno pulsation of 'The Lonesome Foghorn Blows'. Even when at his most conventional, McGuire is enthralling: 'Icy Windows' feels like a Pavement or Sebadoh instrumental in dub, ‘Sick Chemistry is one-note drone made freshly intoxicating (like ‘Skies’, it also puts us in mind of Fennesz’s Black Sea), and the fabulous, rolling 'The Invisible World' sounds like a lost JJ Cale jam – it’s proper rock 'n roll, McGuire-style. If anything, there are a few too many tracks on A Young Person’s Guide but we can hardly fault Mego for being generous; across the album's hefty duration McGuire makes us realise anew what a unique, versatile and frankly irreplaceable instrument the guitar is, and there's no higher praise than that. Huge recommendation.