Boomkat Product Review:
Reel stunning new material from New Orleaner and Kranky stalwart Melissa Guion, aka MJ Guider, deploying flute "every which way" on a strong new EP issued via her own modemain imprint.
A leftward diversion from her usual moonlit dreampop, 'Youth and Beauty' is a hazed, mostly beatless excursion, recorded during the sweatiest months of 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana, pairing flute with guitars and electronics to conjure dense, humid atmospherics.
There are few references to West Coast new age biz to be found, instead Guion harnesses the flute’s ancestral spirits to ornament her arid panoramas. The opening 'Primavera (Ritmo Joven)' does that wildlife documentary/BoC thing exceptionally well, but soon blurs into whirring machinery a few paces away from the cavernous exaltations of 2020's quixotic 'Sour Cherry Bell’, and in turn the melted industrial energy of Cocteau Twin’s ‘Head Over Heels’. Guion's fragile, evocative loops underpin a mass of scraping industrial noise and strangulated rhythms, lending sensitivity to the blustery maelstrom.
Things turn more impressionistic on 'My Regeneration', smudging tectonic guitar drones into a transcendent haze. Here, the flute accents a slow sweeping vision of open plains, as featherlight melodies drift into carbonated clouds of abstraction. At the track’s end, we can just about make out Guion gasping for breath. On’ Grand Couteau' we edge closer to her more crepuscular earlier gear; where gaseous atmospherics wisp around plucked bass notes and an eerie, hollowed beat, the flute reduced to a waved spirit tone.
The closing 'Coluber constrictor foxii’, meanwhile, leans into the same dry landscape as ‘The Hired Hand’ or ‘Paris, Texas’, teasing melodies from bare, porch-side strums across two minutes, 40 seconds that will claw at your very being.