three lobed recordings is stoked to be involved with blatant obviousness in the release of country stash, the latest studio album from the psych stalwarts matt valentine and erika elder. rather than bore you with our own words on this fantastic album, three lobed turned to label friend pete coward, one of fandom’s leading experts on MV+EE as well as the united kingdom’s foremost underground live music archivist, for his well-informed opinion.
“studio-recorded albums from MV & EE fulfill a singular role in the development of their music. the steady stream of live releases, whether on their own craft imprint, heroine celestial agriculture, or elsewhere provide snapshots from the road, vital for their immediacy and for the insight into how those songs sounded with the feeling of that place on that night. but it's when the bags have been un-packed, zuma has been given his tour bones, and they recuperate with the only means of r&r that these guys know, playing music, that the studio magic happens. there they can really reflect on where they've taken their music each night, and been taken by it, and distill some of that knowledge into classic versions of live jams and the birth of new ones, future classics themselves. that's exactly what's happening here on country stash.
it's fitting that this record should be released in part through three lobed. the album is redolent with a sense of friendship and home, and the label is a home of sorts, having had a particularly long and fruitful relationship with MV & EE. it also features contributions from a number of long-time friends, collaborators and road travelers, from both sides of the atlantic and of the us/canada border. and listening to this record you feel right at home in their musical parlor, safe and warm in the welcoming, instantly familiar, glow of spectrasound. right now i can't think of any other place where i'd like to stay and linger for a while.
you're deep in that zone right from the moment the pulsing bass of mick flower kicks the first track, "foxy (one)," up a gear and it coasts along on the beautiful three-way harmonies of MV, EE and jeremy earl and waves of tambourine from coot moon. the mellow vibes and those harmonies continue through "crash palace of records" (click here for a downloadable preview), here the rhythmic momentum provided by canadians mike smith on bass and doc dunn on drums. up next is the title track (...as every crash palace needs a stash, right?), which provides the centre-piece of the record and its longest track. and this is some potent stash. the return of three members of the mighty wolf pack -- rongoose, rafi bookstaber and paulie g -- is felt most markedly in a pastoral flute motif from the latter which drifts hazily in & out of focus, subsumed by the weight of rongoose's bass. the tempo drifts likewise, from a woozy crawl to a wide-eyed tumble of bass, drum and hi-hat. throughout it all MV and EE bust out incredible guitar moves, from some particularly garcia-esque riffing to the blasted scree that brings the track to an exhausted close. i'm not going out on any limbs when I predict this will soon be a live MV & EE favorite.
the comedown to that comes in the shape of a long-standing live favorite, "tea devil." the tempo here is uniform, a graveyard stomp laid down by the uk team of mick flower and andy ramsay. the tension between that earthbound rhythm and the sinuous guitar lines enact the eternal, inescapable blues cycle of temptation and damnation. EE's vocals, at their most languidly sensual since "freight train", make the latter seem unbearably attractive. the redemptive coda to that and to the album comes with "no there, there", a dense, multi-layered piece where acoustic and electric guitars drift above shifting foundations of bass, lap steel, synth and percussion. its deep kosmische resonance provides an oddly comforting close, a long exhalation drawn out over 11 minutes. the only hint of anxiety comes in the gertrude stein reference of the title; that and the sublime short outro, which mirrors the intro to the opener, provide a reminder that soon it will be time to leave these home comforts, saddle up the palomino and hit the road to allow new places to breathe new vibes into these songs. when that happens i look forward to taking my spot in the tapers' pit to hear the songs on this masterful album take flight."