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Navigating by Starlight


"Navigating by Starlight is the elegantly distended fourth LP by a New York band known for its fine taste in bourbon as well as its ability to explore strangely forested nooks of space. Composed of two side-long excursions of heavily bearded improv, this is what Bruce Dern should have been listening to throughout Douglas Trumbull's Silent Running. The first side is called 'Lovejoy Vapor Trail,' after the recently discovered comet said to be releasing enough alcohol to fill 500 bottles of George T. Stagg every second. Who could fail to be staggered by such a suggestion? Not these guys. Dave Shuford's guitar vomits stars in all known directions, Jimy SeiTang's bass and synth cover the proceedings with a blanket of darkness, and Rob Smith's drums drive things along like a pulsar. The flip, 'Scylla and Charybdis,' continues Rhyton's linguistic love affair with Ancient Greece. But with Shuford on electric mandolin, and the rhythm section picking their way between the twin threats more carefully than usual, the band creates a vibe that is more space-swamp than whirlpool (at least in this writer's opinion). By which I mean its method of sucking you into its vortex is staggered rather than continuous. Of course, once you've stuck your head into Rhtyon's sound-barrel, the specifics of destruction don't matter much do they? 500 bottles of Stagg a second . . . that would sure take care of the world shortage, wouldn't it?" --Byron Coley

After crafting Kykeon, the most detailed and finely intermeshed recording of their output, the cosmic compatriots Rhyton decided to get back to basics and kick out the jams with both ferocity and stateliness. Navigating by Starlight features two sidelong improvised slices of molten music recorded by the redoubtable Jason Meagher at apex temperatures at his Black Dirt Studio in upstate New York. The first side, "Lovejoy Vapor Trail," follows a journey from an initial solemn invocation through areas of blinding scree toward a summit of relaxed but rough and tough guitar elevation. The second side, with its natural bifurcation, was an instant composition of two halves that balance perfectly and exhibit a subdued menace.