Fans of Manuel Gottsching (Ashra)—especially his 1984 album E2-E4—and Michael Rother (Neu! / Harmonia) will find much to like about Imaginary Psychology, a five-track opus (including remixes by Yair Yona and Maps and Diagrams) by San Francisco-based musician Matt Baldwin. Though an early release such as Paths of Ignition (American Dust) shows him playing in an acoustic style emblematic of the American Primitive folk tradition, his subsequent releases show him gravitating towards electronic music and krautrock. The False Industries release of Imaginary Psychology is, in fact, a reissue of the three-track release that Baldwin originally issued himself but that's now remastered and supplemented by remixes.
The opening long-form tracks are the recording's core. “Lindsay and Her Duplicates” opens the album with a mind-bending display of loop-based guitar psychedelia. Recorded in real-time and in one take, the track's a stunning, fourteen-minute ride that threads trippy synthesizer treatments into pulsating krautrock. Spidery guitar lines do rapid-fire cartwheels over one another and flurries of wah-wah effects appear, and the whole impresses as a kinetic exercise in forward momentum. “Imaginary Psychology” begins less frenetically, and though ladened with loops and overdubs, exudes somewhat of a folk character in its relaxed gait. Like the opener, it gradually assumes a psychedelic quality when its patterns cycle hypnotically and when cosmic synthesizer whooshes surface seven minutes in.
Baldwin's third original, “Borkian Dervish_Thomas De Hartmann & GI Gurdjieff,” presents three minutes of pastoral folk-styled playing in a reverie that's obviously a stark contrast to the opening pair. Israeli musician and Farthest South member Yair Yona amplifies the dreamlike quality of Baldwin's original by adding e-bow-styled guitar for added texture while hewing to the same duration as the original. For his Maps and Diagrams makeover, Tim Martin stretches Baldwin's track into a ten-minute oasis of guitar and synthesizer shimmer, making for a satisfyingly peaceful close to an album of dramatically contrasting moods.