Umā rolls forward with fragile, juddery swells. Positive-sounding folkish chords and notes revolve on an endless conveyor. After a while, fragments of voice begin to bleed from the slushy tape manipulations. Though the melody grows over the course of the track, with harmonics easing their way in, the melody stays very much consistent throughout. Even from this short, innocent beginning, we can hear boycalledcrow entering into a dialogue. Sequencing skills conversing with the old format of tape, and a younger iteration beginning to parlé with its present counterpart.
Playful Spirit takes the tendril-like sounds of guitar sounds and brings them into a more dissonantly percussive sound. Playful Spirit owing its name to what seems to be its indecisive yet effervescent nature. Trilling high notes skip around a general white noise. From this noise comes a more commanding, lower note alongside stray snares caught up in the shroud of rewound sound. Though the instrumentation feels very freeform, we can hear the artist working hard to fit everything into a discernible rhythm. Rebuilding a beautiful sandcastle as waves continuously wash its foundations away.
A wonderfully organic guitar cuts through fizzling noise, pure melodic resonance meshed with the scratching of fingers on metal strings. A ghostly voice to push gently through the murk. Outsider uses fibrous notes to bolster it up to a more electronic sound, as gentle organic aspects leak out in time. boycalledcrow doesn’t seem to be afraid to push the boundaries of the source material as well, letting his voice ring out over a chirping guitar sounds as he diverts from the emotive section of the song. Already in the first three outings the artist has presented sound experiments that inspire in the listener feelings decidedly different than your average folk demo tape.
Walking The Dog pushes further into electronic pastures, a steady and explicit rhythm accented by what sound like canine barks. Slowly, over the horizon, comes a tinny loop catching suddenly on the rest of the instrumentation and letting out shimmering glitched repetitions. It is let loose again, its full revolution hitting that little bit harder this time before it fades leaving high pitched guitar notes to get caught up in swirls of sound. These two melodic aspects that present themselves as the most prominent themes of the track, and seem to snag on eachother. One catapulting steadily forward as another fades out.
I Got U showcases a fragment of a heartfelt chord progression on guitar, it fades in and out of the ether as a voice laments over the top. boycalledcrow chooses to reveal the past version of himself in snippets, like uncovering small sections of a photograph. The instrumentation and sequencing displayed is engaging in and of itself, and the past seeps through to the listener incrementally.
A particularly touching guitar sequence plays out on Oh, The Guilt left fairly untouched by the artist’s sampling methodology. We hear the aching creak of the guitar, the notes trickling out down with momentum as each first plucked string of a chord brings us over the top of a precipice. The sharp affectations layered over the top augment the chord progression perfectly. In this track, we can even hear steady breathing, meshing with the resonant sound of fingers against strings. Here the strange distorted hologram of the past comes through almost crystal clear. The beauty of the guitar phrases too radiant to warp or manipulate, save for a fleeting sense of hurriedness in some of the high-pitched notes.
Like Walking The Dog, She Is The Sun finds the artist creating a song that stands alone without the reference point of sampling to fall back on. A consistent percussive section takes on a gracefully rolling guitar part. The two knit together seamlessly as boycalledcrow builds around them. Euphoric guitar inflections peel off toward the horizon, the warm repetitive sequence staying comfortably by our side as we watch. The listener gets the impression from this track that the process of creating Mystic Scally would have been an undeniably emotional one. So much heavy context comes with revisiting work from the past. But through the artist’s confidence, we slide through with them adoring the scenery as we go.
The Woods plays out like a repeating from from a film. Earthy, low-slung guitar gives way to piercing resonant lamentations. Wonderfully organic string sounds loop and grow over time, the forest in the frame becoming a little more overgrown each repetition.
I Love Holding Your Hand waltzes into earshot, a lumbering shroud of sped up guitar and natural plucked strings. The artist fashions a percussive sound out of reversed dissonance, one of the first times the listener can explicitly hear reversed sampling being carried out. The instrumentation so far has been so meticulously designed that it has sounded natural. But hear boycalledcrow uses it explicitly to sustain momentum. The gushy title of the track juxtaposes adorably with its fairly timid and recurring nature.
Ghost In My Head brings a more melancholic sound to the fore. Corrupted notes swipe out of murky white noise. A fragile guitar note begins to dance atop the wreckage underneath, fluttering gently. The ballerina-like note trickles away, leaving us in the midst of dissonance again. Two divergent feelings become apparent, the underbelly of the track leans into a more sinister sound, where as the high pitched trills are more akin to a positive and quaint sound. As we stride toward the end and the sounds fade out, we hear (for the first time) a discernible phrase sung in full. ‘There is a ghost in my head’, ingenious in its inclusion, it gives more than a signalling to the premise of Mystic Scally. Almost as if the boycalledcrow of the modern day is back their, somehow present in the mind of the artist all those years ago.
Chasing Rainbows bursts forth with guitar notes ablaze with sunlight and positivity. Another instance in which the artist evidently dug up something too perfect to affect all that much. The instruments sway over each other with a shimmering resonance. Warbling samples carefully unfurl in the heat of summer. The loop feels like the gentle cooing of a repeating breeze.
We end with a layer of snarling bass setting a foundation on My Heart. Small impacts begin to make pinprick incision in it as boycalledcrow sets up a steady pace. All of a sudden, guitar is injected into the mix. Muffled in its execution and placed at the very centre of the sonic landscape, it allows the artist to then push in a echoing ghostly voice just behind it. An unexpectedly heavy-handed texture takes control of the concluding song. We hear screeching of instruments, the tiring inhalations and groans of voices as the ghosts of the past are put through the wringer one last time. It is a triumphant finale that finds the artist repurposing old sounds into a completely new context.
Some excursions on Mystic Scally see boycalledcrow fashioning completely new and inventive sonic journeys from old materials, others find the sounds of the past blended up completely as they play out devoid of form and function. The concept of the album is endearing on its merit alone, but boycalledcrow executes it in such a brilliantly diligent way. At no point does the artist let themselves fall into any sort of pattern, providing the listener with a pristine example of a rewarding dialogue between old and new.