Mazzy Star exist in a world of their own. It is a world of shadow
& sunlight; precious stones and fireflies. Time stands still, here.
It is peaceful.
While time in Mazzy Star's village exists in suspended
animation, much has changed in The Kingdom since their last record,
1996's "Among My Swan". Since then, their brand of slow-motion,
reverb-laden rock has seeped into the collective unconscious, via
trending young artists like Beach House, Widowspeak and Memoryhouse.
Perhaps we are ready to listen closely and hear what they are REALLY
While this new generation of indie babes has grown up
listening to Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval and David Roback have clearly
grown up listening to classic records: soul, blues, country, rock 'n
roll, and it has served them well. Pitchfork referred to Mazzy Star's
music as "psych-tinged folk blues, Laurel Canyon glide, and Hope
Sandoval's distinctive voice." Sonically, for all intents and purposes,
"Seasons Of Your Day" is a straight up, folk-inflected blues rock record.
Spartan guitar lines lock and weave; slide, acoustic and mildly
overdriven tweed cabinet electric are accented with a slight touch of
jazz-brushed percussion and walking country bass lines. It's so pure,
and so close to the original, that it's like a moment suspended in
amber, giving us the chance to separate the disparate elements and see
them clearly, individually.
The only thing that separates Mazzy Star
from being a straight up Rockabilly tribute band is reverb and tempo.
This must be the psych element, giving their music a stylized edge. It
is interesting to place this next to the originals, and note the
differences. The codeine crawl pace of their music gives it a nostalgic,
romantic lamentation. Mazzy Star's psychedelia is dealing with time and
memory. This is the sound of a lifetime loving records, hearing your
parents play Gene Clark and Gram Parsons records through thin tenement
walls as you drift off to sleep, listening to the sounds of their
sedated party. Recording technology has only been around for about a
hundred years and there have only been a couple of generations that
have had a chance to grow up with records. They are ghosts caught on
wax, portals to other times and places, escapes from your life in the doldrums. We
are seeing the artistic and psychological implications of this new
In many ways, Mazzy Star's music is directly intertwined
with recording technology; you simple would not hear it, otherwise.
Sandoval and Roback are notoriously reticent to conduct interviews or
play the industry game. Even their 17 year hiatus was not a planned
career move or staged antic. There is no career to speak of. The pair
played music frequently in that time, just didn't bother to put any of
That's how it is with musicians and creative types. They are
always making things, hanging out and collaborating, and albums are an
approximation, a simulacrum, of that real life. But it is not the real
thing, which happens in living rooms and kitchens, huddled around
hi-fis, or walking to the store to get smokes. Hope Sandoval sometimes
doesn't even like her bandmates to be in the room with her when she is
recording vocals. The condenser microphone, in this case, acts as
magick wand and time capsule, giving you an intimate window into empty
rooms and fading afternoons, that have faded into dust.
Now that the
world has gone slow-core, here's to hoping a whole new generation will
find Mazzy Star's music, and discover the world of timeless sounds they
revere. There are shades of Zeppelin in the rolling Kashmere chord
progression of "California", and you can hear the echo of Son House's
thunderous roar in the charging slide guitar of album closer "Lay Myself
"Seasons Of Your Day" has some auspicious guests grace it's eaves -
dearly departed British folklorist Bert Jansch laid
down some guitar on "Spoon", before his passing in 2011, and My Bloody
Valentine drummer Colm O' Cloissog, whom Hope Sandoval has worked with
in Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, plays a number of
instruments on a number of tracks.
In a lot of ways, "Seasons Of Your
Day" is superior to the classic slabs they imitate. Every track is
beautifully recorded and mastered, smooth, warm and lush, never grating,
never breaking the spell. It benefits from truly inspired and organic
arrangements, that can come out of nowhere and blow your mind, like the
sudden appearance of a string quartet on the title track, or the
harpsichord on "Sparrow" (recorded on what sounds like a real
harpsichord). Dale Everingham deserves a grammy for his engineering work
on this one.
"Seasons Of Your Day" is the best blues record you'll hear
this year. And the best country record. And (one of the) best dream pop
records. Massive kudos to the band, this has been dancing on the breeze
in my living room for weeks, turning my home into a cryogenic roadhouse. I had forgotten how much I love this band, and it has
reignited my love for their earlier records, as well as the classic
recordings they represent. If you've not yet heard this band, climb on
board - this is a fine way to find out. There are many lessons to learn,
many miracles to witness.
Available on vinyl here, and CD here.