Chris Schlarb uses cult imagery on epic new LP

Chris Schlarb indulges in a bit of name-dropping in the press materials for Psychic Temple's IV, limited to the likes of Joni Mitchell's bassist and low-key British legend Terry Reid. As with any name-dropping, it comes off as both egotistical and needy, a shaky attempt at validation at the expense of tattering another's coattails. Fortunately, it may be his only misstep, as IV is quite good. Schlarb's already expansive musical vision benefits from the roots he puts down in his own studio, as it seems to have become a place for his songs to call home and grow, and a locus of his musical community to help bring those songs to life. He has taken his pastoral, avant-jazz leanings and knocked down the walls that previously limited him, freeing him to create the sort of epic long player you don't find anymore.

Don't go looking for a sequel to Pet Sounds or another White Album rehash just because he records the old-fashioned way. Honestly, the modern-day baroque pop of Cardinal and the strangely personal songcraft of Gary Wilson both come to mind, both of which are pluses in my book. Psychic Temple may or may not be the cult Schlarb implies, but with the warmth and beauty found in IV, one can see the temptation in drinking the Kool-Aid. (Safe bet)