MGR Nova Lux

Apparently short form for Mustard Gas and Roses, Mike Gallagher of Isis fame’s ambient side project will no doubt please fans of the airier, more introspective side of his main outfit. Unlike Justin Broadrick’s recent Final effort (also incidentally released by Neurot), MGR’s debut sounds similar to what one would anticipate: essentially Isis, only ambient. Expect contemplative, spacious guitar-scapes, backed by the distant hum of electronics and even the occasional, albeit extremely subtle, usage of programmed beats. Greg Burns of Red Sparrowes lends some pedal steel work on the first track, "I” — predictably enough, the tracks are identified only by numbers, which only enhances the ethereal feel of the proceedings. You know that looming, oppressive vibe that seems to permeate all Isis material, especially their recent work? It’s still here in full effect — what makes it that much more incredible is how little Gallagher requires to hold down an atmosphere that a full six-piece band often struggle to achieve. A singular criticism: the record draws to a close at an underwhelming 45 minutes, when the material is easily strong enough to expand to well over an hour without much room for complaint. (Neurot)