As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Mark McGuire.
As the principle guitarist for synth megastars, Emeralds, it has fallen to Mark McGuire to craft intricate runs that can compete with the magnitude of experimentation transpiring from the band’s endless catalogue. One would assume that when McGuire finds the time to release solo work (again, of which there is plenty), it would find itself at home on a different plane. Living with Yourself (McGuire’s first “proper” LP, released via Editions Mego) dares no such risk, rewarding long time fans of the Cleveland three piece with a glimpse into the McGuire mechanism.
McGuire has mastered looping techniques, carefully layering guitar rundowns upon each other to create complex melodies that are as organic as they are manufactured—a tough balance to strike. Living with Yourself blends some of McGuire’s less experimental tendencies (such as the stripped down, Solo Acoustic, and straightforward, Off in the Distance) with his Dr. Frankenstein abilities to reanimate separated lines of melody into a full functioning monster.
Living with Yourself stands as the solitary testament to the versatility of McGuire’s work to date. The album centers on the ideal of family and its ever-changing status as one matures from kinder to elder. McGuire’s compositions happen to mirror his metaphysical thread; each passing track builds upon the previous. Living with Yourself reflects the aesthetic, growing from earlier McGuire releases before culminating in a triumphant climax. The accusations of guitar noodling may not be silenced by the end of Living with Yourself but McGuire’s grasp of transforming disparate ideas into uniquely cohesive expositions is hard to slap with the label of pretentious showmanship.