The latest from Austin, Texas based My Education is a set of psychedelically dreamy and cinematic powerhouse wall-of-sound compositions that are all about folk-like serenity and image inducing intensity. The band are the sextet of James Alexander on viola, guitar and programming, Chris Hackstie on acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitars, Brian Purington on guitar Vincent Duncan on drums and percussion, Scott Telles (ST 37) on bass, and Henna Chou on piano, keyboards and cello, plus guests on vibraphone, saxophone and keyboards.
The album opens with the double edged title track. A Drink… is a light droney chamber orchestral intro that leads into …For All My Friends. It opens with melodic yet dark and droning viola, cello, and guitar, with the other band members soon joining in. The harsh acidic guitar makes for an interesting contrast against this theme. And when the explosion comes it’s a massive and desnse blast of noisy acid-folk-drone rock. When the lead melody guitar is added the music reaches even further heights of intensity, adding a strange orchestral heavy prog and metal infusion. Wow, there is a LOT happening on this track and it all develops seamlessly. Mister 1986 is next and features stringed instruments, acoustic guitar, and piano passages, alternating with the addition of two electric guitars, one having a 60s Western soundtrack sound and the other a harsher acidic edge. And once again the band build up to explosive levels of head on attack, and I love the way they create a cooperative contrast between aggression and dreamy melodic seduction. Black Box consists of psychedelic drone rock for valium heads that deftly combines serene melodies with dissonance, and is laced with spaced out mission control samples. Roboter-Höhlenbewohner is one of the more high octane heavy guitar driven rock ‘n rollers of the set. It’s a got a prog-like sense of thematic development, and these guys use multiple guitarists such that each creates his unique and individual voice within the piece. I like the spacey keyboard effects too. Happy Village starts off like the earlier tracks, being a slow, melodic, droney folk-orchestral meditative journey. Around the halfway mark the music doesn’t so much explode as it does quickly yet surreptitiously build to the same levels of eruptive intensity heard on Mister 1986. And just as Happy Village is coming in for a landing the band launch directly into the closing track, the powerhouse rock ‘n rolling Homunculus, a kick ass ripper of a finale. Guitars and saxophone are blazing on this monster!
My Education excel at creating beautiful melodies and craftily using their various instrumentation to create and execute their compositions, which sets them apart from a lot of other cinematic/psychedelic wall-of-sound bands in that the listener really gets a sense of the instrumentation involved. A Drink For All My Friends is a raging tour-de-force and psychedelically dreamy meditation, all rolled into one.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz