Psychic Temple III

Psychic Temple III
8
Chris Schlarb's musical output has ranged from jazzy re-interpretations of Brian Eno's Music For Airports to video game soundtracks to ambient sound-collage compositions, and now includes this third album as bandleader in the folk-jazz-improv collective Psychic Temple. III finds the band trying out more conventionally structured folk-rock songs, but these compositions are still interspersed, and imbued with the same exploratory spirit that has guided them this far.
 
The moody, avant-jazz intro of "Overture" is immediately offset by the sunny folk-rocker "When I Know," which features Schlarb stepping up to the microphone with a clear and confident voice. Throughout the album, even their most jammy psychedelia is still rooted in hippie-ish, rootsy songwriting. However, the album's low points — "Getting Home" and "I Don't Need Nothin'" — are brought on by hamming up the country bumpkin thing a bit too much.
 
The album's standouts, "You Ain't a Star" and "Brother O," feature a much more refined synthesis of all their influences, resulting in some extremely catchy indie-pop jams perfect for summer playlists. Overall, III is definitely worth your time — at least for the surprising takes on familiar ingredients. (Asthmatic Kitty)