Graded on a Curve:
More Klementines,
Who Remembers Light

It was in the autumn of 2018 that the Connecticut-based unit More Klementines released their eponymous first album, a sweet doozy of improvisational psychedelia, and now, nearly four years later, they’ve delivered a follow-up of considerable magnificence extending the outward bound qualities of the debut, but with perceptible growth and couple of sizable twists. Who Remembers Light is out August 26 on sturdy, reliable black vinyl in an edition of 340 copies, co-released by the record labels Twin Lakes and Feeding Tube.

More Klementines is Michael Kiefer on drums, a man known only as Steubs (co-founder with Kiefer of Twin Lakes Records) on mandolin, guitar, bass, electronics, and the mark tree, and Jon Schlesinger on guitar, lap steel, and in one of this album’s significant developmental turns, vocals. To elaborate, the two untiled side-long tracks on their debut were instrumental affairs, a circumstance that extends to three of the four cuts on Who Remembers Light.

The exception is “Key of Caesar,” a concise honest-to-goodness song, which, along with singing that reminds me a bit of J. Mascis, delivers the record’s other big twist, although ultimately, the cut isn’t a bit disconnected from More Klementines’ previously established psychedelic comportment. Featuring a downright handsome guitar line that endures amid the loose and blossoming drift, the track is tuneful yet druggy in a manner reminiscent of the more rock-aligned acts in the New Weird landscape of the ’00s. And please note: on their debut, More Klementines self-described as Appalachian Krautrock.

“Key of Caesar” counts as a substantial progression but it doesn’t overwhelm the outfit’s overall scheme. That is, opener “Hot Peace” is a wonderful stretch-out (over 14 minutes long) of resonating swirl and burn that gradually picks up the pace as that Germanic thrust gets blended with a rawness I associate with Spacemen 3.

Unlike some of the psych merchants stepping out on the contemporary scene, More Klementines aren’t really about jam-rock affiliated throwback vibes. Indeed, the improv nature of their debut often landed the LP nearer to free rock than to easily digestible motions of psychedelia. This free rock sensibility rises up in the later potion of “Hot Peace” and is also heard in the title cut, which opens side two in a somewhat less agitated manner (with brief flashes suggesting Popol Vuh), though before long there is plenty of guitar scorch leading into a midsection that kicks up a considerable amount of dust.

The way “Who Remembers Light” winds down makes it clear that improv (or better said, just working up their thing in the studio) is still part of More Klementines’ operational method. And due to its title, “Ascension” might lead Coltrane-cognizant readers to assume that it’s an improv-inclined affair, and sure enough, there is a very nice passage late in the track that hit my ear like prime-era Sonic Youth sliding into full-on abstract noise mode.

But overall, this “Ascension” is built upon a pretty solid structural foundation. What’s sweet is that these songlike maneuvers avoid rock clichés of a sort that so frequently keep contempo psych from fully taking off. Listening to Who Remembers Light, it’s not difficult to discern where More Klementines is coming from. They just make the trip in a refreshingly non-hackneyed way.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A-

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