Mark McGuire — Living With Yourself
The breakthrough success of Emeralds’ Does it Look Like I’m Here? has lead to reissues of their catalog as well as attention to constituent members’ solo releases. Mark McGuire, one third of Emeralds and a slugger in his own right, has relentlessly self-released CD-Rs and cassette tapes of multitracked kosmische guitar drone. His ostensibly auto-biographical Living With Yourself was released by Austrian imprint Editions Mego in 2010.
While sentimentality has become a criticism in the late aughts, McGuire isn’t afraid to make a wholesome record about family and home. Along with song titles and photo album cover art, McGuire’s guitars perfectly describe growing up and the nostalgia that accompanies contemplating the past. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that Mark is expressing gratitude to his family for a good life.
Styled akin to Manuel Gottsching, tracks such as “Moving Apart” unravel a tapestry of texture, odd and bright guitar tones, phasing rhythms, and repetitious melodies. Standout track “Bran Storm (for Erin)” portrays a pop sensibility with a conventional ebb and flow arc, its rhythmic underpinnings serving as a substrate for meandering, echoed lines that lead into his energetic solos. The opening and closing tracks function as bookends. Both collage audio from childhood home recordings — dialogue between a young Mark, his brother Matt, and their father. The closer and only track to cross the ten-minute mark, “Brothers (for Matt)” mirrors “The Vast Structure of Recollection.” It opens with the same blurry clustered theme from the latter part of “Vast Structure […]” which trickles beneath Mark’s father inquiring into his love life. The whirring finds its way back to acoustic strumming, which is immediately interrupted by unadorned distorted power chords, a stark contrast from what falls between the first and last tracks. The rhythm guitar loops and the solos quickly build over them, the album’s conclusion dissolves into a mellifluous mixture of acoustic guitar joy, processed loops, and unintelligible tender utterances.