“Spectre Folk’s latest Vol. 4 evokes history and journeys, both in leader / main songwriter Pete Nolan’s travelogues of places and experiences around the world, and in the band’s reverential nods to musical history / tips of the hat to psych-swirlers of the past. Their first full length since 2012’s Ancient Storm, Vol. 4 heaps more generous servings of layered, lavalamp-drip guitars, lethargic riffery and choogling sunstare moments both epic and subtle. Nolan, now relocated to South Carolina these days, still directs his song energy through and with a band of prime players: Aaron Mullan (Tall Firs / Hallogallo), Mark Ibold (Pavement / Dustdevils), Peter Meehan (Lucky Peach zine) and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), who despite geographic distance still churn out a cohesive and gorgeous collection of inventive and expansive sounds.
“Begin the Mothership” creeps in with drifty vibe and imagery of the 13th Floor Elevators’ guitarist Tommy Hall in his trough days praying to a Mickey Mouse poster on acid in San Francisco, slowly giving way to an avalanche of cosmic guitars, while “Golden Gooj” revamps a more barren tune from an old Spectre CDR release into a watery raftride down a slow river with Michael Rother’s flanged electric guitar leading the way. The easier-going moments of Spectre Folk circa-2017 offer among the most colorful and rich highlights of this new outing. “Bremsstrahlung” evokes some delicate David Crosby guitar work adrift on a bed of hazy sunset drone, while Shelley’s propulsive drums lead the way through the heavier burners of the record, “Action Ray” and “We’re So Tired,” the latter a frantic melange of Here Comes The Warm Jets-style humidity and wah wah splatter. A sonic celebration of good wine, sunlight, wanderlust, and players whose kinship and shared vocabulary move this latest spectral event into the zone of bliss.” —Brian Turner, WFMU