A sparkling display of near ambient psychedelia...
'Vine'

Ambient-psych virtuoso Jen Gloeckner has come forth with her first new material in seven years. ‘Vine’ is a decidedly hazy affair, with glitchy, trip-hop roots underpinning immersive, atmospheric soundscapes. Opening cut ‘Blowing Through’ sets the tone with gentle flutes and fuzzy synths, and ‘Breathe’ springs into life with spliced, exhaling vocals before freefalling into a wide open ravine of reverb-drenched guitars and crisp snare drumming.

The acid-trip come-up of ‘Firefly (War Dance)’ follows in a head-spinning Burning Man fantasy, complete with tambourine flourishes and far-off alien noises, and Gloeckner goes a step beyond on ‘Prayers’, a dynamic and elemental track that moves from sparse, aquatic drift to climaxing soft rock in one sweeping motion.

Soon after, the record’s brightest moments arrive via the slowly-building swell of ‘Row With The Flow’. Punctuated by guitar work from John Ashton of the Psychedelic Furs, and further layered with vocals from Henry Padovani, the original guitarist for The Police, the two cameos add to a mix already brimming with substance, as a moaning cello and glimmering keys loop dutifully around a simple self-aware mantra: “I know it’s not that easy”.

The title-track then caps off what is the Iowa native’s most high-production, all-consuming collection yet. From Massive Attack to Portishead, Gloeckner’s chief influences shine brightly here, as she paints a sophisticated and sensual canvas that’s most readily enjoyed when kept in keen, microscopic focus. Though it occasionally wanders, ‘Vine’ is an altogether warm embrace of a record that is both empowered and limited in scope by its gushing, freeform psychedelia.

6/10

Words: Noveen Bajpai

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