November 12th, 2013 | Album reviews

Viola Tada

Residual Echoes
The Middle Path
Holy Mountain

Residual Echoes’ Adam Payne seems as comfortable with minimally structured half hour long psychedelic experimentations as he is with tight classic rock, folk and the kind of big guitar alternative rock perfected by early 90s Dinosaur Jr., which makes each new release a wonderful grab bag of mystery. Will the album be a heavy, frequently dark piece of sludge rock peppered with beautiful acoustic guitar work like Residual Echoes’ auspicious debut album Phoenician Flu and Ancient Ocean or will it be more like 2010’s Dead Head which explored Payne’s slightly more contemporary (if Amherst in 1990 could be considered contemporary) indie rock skills? Appropriately enough for an album called The Middle Path, Residual Echoes’ latest release splits the difference. Featuring only two tracks (though both are around twenty minutes long), The Middle Path is an ambitious and impressive piece of work that plays almost as a historical overview of guitar rock since 1967, recalling at times Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, the Who, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Can—you name the guitar-based heavy rock band and chances are there will be at least a second where you’ll think you’re hearing them—interspersed with ambient sound baths and the occasional Grateful Dead–style jam. But this is no flippant novelty musical history album. Payne weaves the disparate parts together into a whole that manages to be cohesive and wholly original. This is an album that rewards close attention and repeated listens, that alternately demands your focus and then pushes your brain into a hazy stratosphere. In Residual Echoes’ nearly ten-year-long career, this album stands as one of the best representations of Payne’s impressive musical capabilities and is highly recommended.
Tom Child