Reaching the Peak, Speck Mountain.

Reaching the Peak, Speck Mountain.

The collective activity of Mazzy Star can cohesively be compared to the life cycle of a star of that exclusively astronomical variety: formed from a bit of Opal in guitarist David Roback and a thoroughly complementary piece in the radiant shape of vocalist Hope Sandoval, the two came together as particles might prior to fusing together to become, say, a so-called Massive Star. This then smoulders, expanding all the while, before morphing into a Red Supergiant. (At this point I ought admit that Mazzy Star never became as massive, nor indeed as supergiant as they might’ve for a variety of predominantly label-based reasons, though for the sake of argument I’ll bracket that bit.) With So Tonight That I May See, released in ’93, they veritably exploded – artistically, if not quite commercially – and subsequently left a dull black hole of sorts in their wake when the Californian dears departed four years later. Though inevitably there would always be remnants, or residual matter left for others to find. And finding, and then of course filtering, is precisely what Chicago spacey, psych-rock outfit Speck Mountain have done on Badwater – the third full-length from the for now four-piece.

Speck Mountain, as with Mazzy Star, have one girl and one boy at their core; their galactic nucleus, so to speak. And again, as with their shoegazey forebears, it’s lead vocalist Marie-Claire Balabanian who’s backed up primarily by the lavish ambient guitar work of her male counterpart, or longstanding collaborator Karl Briedrick in this particular instance. Badwater (released next week via Carrot Top Records) is, to all extensive purposes, a breathtaking release that’s as coherent as a whole as it is compelling in its every component, though arguably its finest moment breaks but a few minutes in with Slow So Long: an atmospheric ease fuelled by treated wails of guitar and Balabanian’s casually irresistible sigh, it’s the acute tine at which melancholia meets majesty, and is the enchanting sound of a band ever ascending toward the peak of their combined powers. We can now but hope that they’re not to burn out any time soon…

Speck Mountain’s Soundcloud.

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