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Published on September 20th, 2019 | by voxx

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Ty Segall – First Taste

The garage rocker ditches guitars on a wildly inventive 11th…

Never one to be accused of dragging his heels, in 2018 alone Ty Segall released an impressively Stakhanovite six albums. While the sprawling, ’70s-styled rock of Freedom’s Goblin was up there with his very best, the more half-baked collaboration The C.I.A. suggested the workaholic psych-rock polymath might be spreading himself a little too thin.

Thankfully, for his 11th solo record he devised a novel way to keep things interesting. Throughout the writing and recording of First Taste all guitars were banned, Segall instead relying on a newly amassed collection of instruments – bouzouki, koto, recorders, saxophone, mandolins – to push himself creatively. Not that you might notice initially. Thanks to a wall of FX pedals, opener ‘Taste’ hurtles out the traps, business as usual, digital distortion and clattering rhythms ricocheting between the speakers. What those strictures have done, though, is push his breakneck fuzz-o-rama into new places, finding shapes and corners hitherto unexplored within Segall’s garage-rock oeuvre.

‘Whatever’ is a bad trip T.Rex, gremlin-like electronics seeping into jarring stabs of bouzouki and honking sax, which unexpectedly shifts into the a cappella ‘Ice Plant’, the latter’s stack of lush harmonies floating in straight from Brian Wilson’s sandpit. First Taste is a record exploding with ideas and interesting twists: pinballing drum battles, hypnotic free-jazz wormholes, the mutant dirge that builds around the discordant kazoo drone of ‘I Worship The Dog’. None of it ever submerges his ear for melodic rock classicism, though. ‘The Arms’ and ‘I Sing Them’ have a rustic, Led Zeppelin III roll, while joyous closer ‘Lone Cowboys’ is one of the most accomplished songs of his career, bringing together all the divergent strands for a triumphant finale.

Given his exhaustively prolific output you could forgive Ty Segall for running out of road creatively. A decade down the line, nothing could be further from the truth.

- By Jake White


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