[sic] Magazine

Richard Youngs – Amplifying Host

Over the last twenty years, through periods of fluctuating public interest, Richard Youngs has more or less managed to make minimal experimentalism his own. And, a year to the day since Jagjaguwar re-mastered and re-released his jaw-dropping “pop” album, Beyond The Valley Of Ultrahits , they now drop his 11th solo album, Amplifying Host .

How Youngs-ian then that, with his stock never higher, Youngs retreats, setting aside the keyboards and hooks of Ultrahits and returning to the outré folk with which he is most associated – only this time he delivers it from the deepest dusty prairie of his mind, inviting comparison with what has elsewhere been dubbed “acid Western”, as well as with the most desolate parts of Neil Young ‘s catalogue.

And, what Amplifying Host and its six windblown cuts lack in number, they more than compensate with in length. At the top of the pile, the 13+ widescreen minutes of “Too Strong For The Power” direct a chill straight down the spine. Bedded on unobtrusive cymbal rides courtesy of iconic dream-pop outfit Galaxie 500 ‘s Damon Krukowski , Youngs otherwise bends droning electric strings here, tickling out Nick Drake -ish plucked progressions there. With his voice often drawn out to a drone itself, this is disaffecting, star-gazing and hyper-lonely stuff in the first degree.

Though elsewhere shorter in length, this sense of chilly isolation is repeated throughout. “Tesselations” howls, for example, like a northerly wind through the trees, and “Furrows Again” is rife with multi-tracked echoes. The stabbing single string repeats in “Holding Onto The Sea” burrow themselves into the lump in your throat, if not instantly the heart. And, on “A Hole In The Earth”, Youngs sets his guitar to gently weep, delicately eking out a lament to bring tears to the face of Mother nature herself.

Finally, working himself into a fervour of sorts, and amid a welcome exercise in linear strumming, Youngs loudly proclaims on the closer that “ This is the music of exaltation “. A world away from the relative showmanship of Ultrahits , Amplifying Host ‘s cries to the moon are introvert in the extreme, intense enough perhaps to partially justify these claims. Yet, set against the disquieting expanse of the high and lonesome trail they come in to their own as a certain euphoric deliriousness takes over, heightening the record’s beauty and somehow making the whole experience seem entirely more real.

~Amplifying Host is released July 18th 2011 on Jagjaguwar .~

[sic] review – Beyond The Valley Of Ultrahits.