Upon listening to the first few seconds of Chris Schlarb‘s Psychic Temple (Asthmatic Kitty), it immediately feels like you’ve entered a deep hall of creativity. The music is heard, instruments are played, vocal harmonies are scattered in the soundscape, but it’s as if the machine was started up and you’re hearing the gears beginning to move, the process of what’s to come. It reminded me a bit of Miles Davis‘ “In A Silent Way”, as if everyone is walking towards their instruments, making sure everyone is ready for the mission, and without a word they’re speaking to each other in hushed tones. This deep hall of creativity is indeed the Psychic Temple, and you become one with the music for the next 33 minutes.
The remainder of the songs could be a number of things. It’s that long distance drive where you know where you’re going, but even though gas is going to cost you these days, you want to go further. Fans of early Pink Floyd (pre-Meddle) will like how a song such as “Dream State > Police State” will immediately place you where it intends you to be. In this case, a surreal place where everything is nothing is everywhere, where you leave your cares behind and dream of a world where the world is a dream. “Daughters of Ursa Major” has a nice outdoors-y feel, not sure if it’s due to the guitar work reminding me of big front porches and woodsiness, or just the echo and reverbs taking me back to a familiar time I may or may not have experienced.
As the album reaches the last track, “White Dove In The Psychic Temple”, you can see that there will be no more in this album experience, so you absorb everything that’s coming through the speakers in the hopes you don’t realize how far from home you are. Schlarb does this with a group of musicians who believe in the path he takes here, and they create music that makes them sound not only like accompanists, but family and friends that you want to join as well.
Listening to this also demands patience on the listener’s part, although if you love music at slow tempos that make it possible for you to hear everything in the path towards the next bar and measure, and the fun is hearing what these musicians are capable of doing while sneaking in a few of their influences and references. Perhaps this is jazz for those who aren’t complete jazz fans. Whatever it may be, it is something you’ll want to sit listening to from start to finish, many times over. A keeper.