Mexican Summer, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/22/2012
I’m not sure what I expected this to sound like, but I know this wasn’t it. Brooklyn-based songwriter/guitarist Mike Wexler’s sophomore disc and first appearance with the Mexican Summer label is a genre defying effort, an amalgamation of synth and strings, carefully calculated instrumentation and improvisation, and singing that remains buried under the playful folk, dark psyche-rock and almost trance-like droning.
It’s definitely a unique vision, a highly unorthodox meshing of sounds and styles, but Wexler pulls it off well, even injecting piano and organs into his often hypnotic, slow paced balladry. It’s ambient and experimental but never translates into disjointed or sloppy, sometimes recalling aspects of free jazz or hazy ‘60s rock in an almost meditative version. With most songs lasting six minutes or more that blend seamlessly into one another, this almost seems like one long track of soothing orchestration and spur of the moment loops. Wexler’s guitar picking acrobatics quickly pull the listener in, and the hushed – nearly whispered – vocals make this an often blurry listen, almost as if you were listening to an experimental folk version of a Pink Floyd disc with jazz sensibilities.
Though Wexler’s 2007 debut Sun Wheel was well received with those who heard it, the songwriter hasn’t escaped the obscurity he’s been residing in. Taking two years to make Dispossession and with aid from ex-members of White Magic and The Occasion, this is a highly polished disc full of pristine musicianship that is beaming with creativity and finds the balance between spontaneous and meticulous. There was clearly a lot of thought put into the complicated instrumentation here, and any listener who appreciates atypical song structure, odd time signatures, and cryptic yet thought provoking wordplay will find this an absolute masterpiece – an elegant and mysterious journey.
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