It would be easy to say that MV & EE are really “out there.” Their style of acid-tinged psychedelic folk has everything that could be stereotypically considered weird or different in rock music, a myriad of distortions rendered through reverb and delay. This misses the point though. Space Homestead isn’t about redefining musical boundaries. It is much more ambitious than that. It simply and purely strives to be beautiful.
The fundamental components of Space Homestead are rich multi-layered acoustic instrumentation, lap-steel, echo-laden male and female vocal harmonization, vintage harmonica, esoteric instrument cameos, searing electric guitar and liberally applied overdubs. These features are floated along a peacefully low-key psychic wave. The music promotes a feeling of exploration offset by tranquility. It is going somewhere but not with any urgency. It is music that John Paul Ziller of Another Roadside Attraction might have witnessed truth within. It embodies the spirit of the ’60s, peaceful and free. At the same time it is energetically creative, independent and motivated. It is timeless Americana, in a sense that embraces Dinosaur Jr. as much as the essential melodies of Appalachian folk. The songs are sound collages, spiritually evocative as they drift through streams of lush instrumentation. Perhaps the greatest musical surprise of the album are the jammin’ bass lines, the best examples of this being “Workingman’s Smile” and “Common Ground.”
If you want to do something cool with this record, align the first track of Side B, “Too Far to See,” at 1:17 with 0:33 of “Cowgirl in the Sand” by Neil Young. If you get the bars right it is something amazing to hear. It is also exposes how wholly unoriginal this solo by Matt Valentine actually is, but then again, originality is a false prophet. Timbre is the last great frontier of pop music. MV & EE engage its potential to their best ability.
Space Homestead has its downsides. Its laconic sentiment can border on boredom at times. The music doesn’t always pay enough attention to the listener, which means the listener doesn’t always pay enough attention to the music. If this was a landmark album for the band it would be a moderate disappointment. But it’s just another release from a startlingly prolific group. In that spectrum the album is a mark of consistency. While we sit here critiquing it, MV & EE are already mastering the tracks on their next drop.
Woods – Songs of Shame
The Band – Music from Big Pink
Neil Young – Everybody Knows this is Nowhere
Stream: MV & EE – “Workingman’s Smile”