Dean McPhee – Son Of The Black Peace

Dean McPhee - Son Of The Black Peace

Even for a relatively experienced critic, sometimes describing – let alone judging – music can be like nailing jelly to a wall.  Certainly, someone who falls into this hard to nail-up category is West Yorkshire’s solo electric guitar man Dean McPhee.  Trying to unpick and trace what makes his muse work – and work so well – is a tough ask when this writer would just like to say that this 4-track debut LP is a dignified and serene 36 minutes that no serious fan of instrumental music should fail to investigate.  But of course, you need more explanation to instigate such a search in a world chronically overflowing with new and old releases, so it falls to this listener to dissect but hopefully not lazily label-up Son Of The Black Peace.

Picking-up where 2009’s similarly sculpted but shorter Brown Bear EP left-off, this full-length follow-up continues a deep sonic journey into lengthy pieces that seamlessly meld wide – but far from obvious – influences into seamless wordless meditations.  With hard scrutiny it feels that inspiration may have come, directly or indirectly, from the most experimental wares of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn (albeit refracted from acoustic to electric aesthetics), the production values of 4AD’s atmospheric ‘80s lynchpins, the languid explorations of The Durutti Column, Mogwai’s most melancholic moments, Pan-American’s nocturnal minimalism and Fripp & Eno’s enigmatic Evening Star.  Moreover, there are perhaps even shades of medievalist folk and African desert-rock buried in McPhee’s palette.  However, all such reference points blur into a cohesive elemental sound, so that the whole of Son Of The Black Peace flows, laps, ripples and churns as one bleak and beautiful entity.

Ultimately, this is an impressive and uncompromising album that answers to no-one besides its creator’s gifts for conjuring mesmeric moodscapes with merely six-strings and some effects pedals.  Overall, as take-it-or-leave-it artistic statements go, Son Of The Black Peace leaves a firm impression of a fledgling talent blooming in a solitude of his own making.

Blast First (Petite)