The Lickets: Here (On Earth)
International Corporation

Once again, the San Francisco-based The Lickets dazzles us with music of the utmost magic and wonderment, just as the group has done since 2005's Fake Universe Man and 2007's Journey In Caldecott first brought its luminous music to the masses. Presumably Mitch Greer and Rachel Smith are once again the creative forces behind the new release, just as they've also been responsible for material issued under the Quintana Jacobsma and Mary St John aliases. In some ways, the album can be seen as a microcosmic distillation of The Lickets' two late-2010 full-lengths, Song of the Clouds and Eidolons, as many of the new album's pieces would have fit comfortably on the latter while the new album's closing meditation, “Here (On Earth),” is similar in epic tone to the former's nearly album-long “Song of the Clouds” but condensed to a seven-minute form.

The new album features eight mystical reveries of electric and acoustic design that inhabit a timeless realm in a manner reminiscent of Popol Vuh; just as that group's music transcended the time of its creation, so too does The Lickets' music. In fact, one setting in particular, “End of Jupiter Phase 1,” could pass for a Popol Vuh production as easily as one by The Lickets, given the meditative tone of the piece in question and the way it somehow manages to effortlessly meld cosmic and bucolic qualities into a single whole. Here (On Earth) begins on a suitably mesmerizing note with “Transpersonal Earth Spirals” and its incandescent swirls of phantasmagoric sound before moving onto “The Intervals Between the Ordered World,” its droning pull as strong as a black hole. While shimmering drones such as “The Octant Coordinate System” dominate, the group also makes room for a lilting psychedelic folk waltz, “Neither Sun nor Moon,” whose arrangement of hushed vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, and harmonium lends the song a peaceful feel and ‘60s vibe. Though individual instrument sounds assume a fuzzy character when they're blended into a hazy mass, certain sounds—strings, organ, percussion—do occasionally separate themselves from the whole during the album. Refreshingly direct and concise, Here (On Earth) presents forty-four minutes of the group's trademark splendour—more incredible music for devotees of long-standing and a perfect entry point for new listeners.

September 2011