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MJ Guider Precious Systems Kranky


In its quieter moments, MJ Guider’s Precious Systems – Melissa Guion’s second release proper and first for Kranky – sounds quite startlingly like Grouper, especially in its spectral vocals and hypnagogic fug of thumb-strummed guitar. As an evangelical champion of Liz Harris’ output, one shouldn’t complain, but it’s borderline uncanny and impossible to ignore. In spite of that fact – or perhaps because of it – Precious Systems is an immediate runner for record of the year: a slowburn, oneiric gem, inspired by the juxtaposition of the landscape around New Orleans and the man-made industrial and commercial embellishments therein.

Sonically, the record jumps between half-awake exercises in ambient pop and more austere gothic rumblings. Opening track Lit Negative is relatively ho-hum, but Triple Black is a revelation, albeit a slight, understated one. Little snaps of ersatz snare spiral out into nowhere over a simple, heavily delayed guitar pattern; an irresistibly vague vocal hook appears nearly a minute in. Repeat and that’s that. It’s imagined LA highways at night, a headlit journey into the dark, equally eerie and elative and really good.

De facto centrepiece Evencycle is ten minutes of absorbing, buried techno – effectively two loops starting out of time and peaking in a cumulative hypnosis that Axel Wilner would be utterly chuffed with. It’d be hard to tag Precious Systems as completely original – but it is disarmingly gorgeous, and utterly evocative.