Reviews

Dean McPhee/Seabuckthorn – Altar Rock/Pine Darkened Slopes (ltd lathe cut 7″) 

“‘Altar rock’ further cements Dean McPhee’s repute as an artist of praise-worthy sensitivity, His ability to extract a broadening spectrum of emotional colouring is simply next to none with this dream drifting seafaring opine at once beautifully free from shackling, airily murmured and yet bitter sweetly toned”. (The Sunday Experience)

Dean McPhee/Mary Arches – Devon Folklore Tapes Vol V: Ornithology (double 10″ EP)

Number 6 in the Brainwashed Magazine Readers Poll 2016 – Various Artist Compilation of the year

“McPhee takes inspiration from two avant-garde artists of the twentieth century, Jim Fassett and Dr. Peter Szoke, who composed music based on slowed-down recordings of bird song, but more specifically from a woman named Beatrice Harrison, who duetted with a nightingale on her cello for a popular radio broadcast in the 1930s. McPhee swaps the cello for his electric guitar and loops the sounds of birdsong so he can snake his slow-burning drones and solos around their tweets and chatters. It’s a simple methodology, but one that achieves immediately affecting results not unlike the mournful instrumental folk drone of composer Richard Skelton”. (Dusted)

“McPhee’s unhurried meditations place careful guitar motifs – Fripp-style e-bow drones, crepuscular volume pedal shimmers and spider web-delicate fingerpicked figures – alongside crystal clear renderings of robin, nightingale and blackbird songs to create a set of hallucinatory visions. His playing on The Nightingale, in particular, is as effective as any of the hazy high-points on 2015’s exemplary Fatima’s Hand, the smooth fade-ins giving his long, sustained tones an almost electronic quality that complements the lush maximalism of the trills and whistles punctuating them.” (We Need No Swords). 

Fatima’s Hand (LP/CD/DL)

Number 4 in MOJO Magazine’s top 10 Undergound albums of 2015 and number 35 in John Mulvey’s (Uncut Magazine) “Best Albums of 2015” list.

“Sublime solo electric guitar reveries that sound like absolutely no one else…his latest work burrows deeper into untraveled terrain as his assimilation of disparate influences such as dub and Moroccan Trance becomes increasingly fluid and seamless…Fatima’s Hand is essentially Dean McPhee at his most defiantly “Dean McPhee”: pure, unhurried, exotic, and artfully tinged with a touch of unreality.  At its best, this album is basically an imaginary opium den for the ears, as Eastern modalities gently unfold in a soft-focus haze and time loses all meaning…Dean’s greatest artistry lies in how seemingly effortless, egoless, and natural these five pieces feel, like they just flowed out of his guitar without any intended structure or artifice”. (Brainwashed)

“Fatima’s Hand takes McPhee’s treated Fender Telecaster explorations into deeper as well as sparser otherworldly realms.  Stretching through a triumvirate of beyond-plaintive ruminations (“Smoke And Mirrors”, “Glass Hills” and “Solar Crown”) to reach the sublimely epic e-bow-aided dronescape centrepiece that is “Effigy Of Clay”, before dropping down into the minimalistic reflection pooling of the closing titular-track, the new long-player could be McPhee’s most uncompromising statement so far but it also confirms that he is cementing a sturdy body of material that both honours and transcends his sources of inspiration” (DOA)

“There is a sepulchral, spiritual sound to this music (perhaps partly in the steely focus and devotion with which McPhee plays), although it does not appear to be overtly religious in outlook or inspiration. It is perhaps more about reflection, thought and dreams…Fatima’s Hand is another evolution for McPhee’s singular playing style, and a characteristically immersive, absorbing experience – 8/10”. (MusicOMH).

Son of the Black Peace (LP/CD/DL)

Steve Barker’s album of the year 2011 in The Wire Magazine, number 9 on “The Out Door’s favourite solo guitar albums of 2011” on Pitchfork

“It takes a lot to stand out from the morass of post-Takoma guitarists currently operating, but with ‘Son Of The Black Peace,’ Mcphee manages just that. A large part of that is down to his remarkable restraint and appreciation of space (notes are permitted to hang in the ether, adorned only with the faintest touches of tremolo, reverb and delay), but it’s Mcphee’s ear for a heartbreaking (but never obvious) melody that has me returning again and again to this quite beautiful album” (Articulate Silences, Ambient Sounds column, Drowned in Sound) .

“Son of the Black Peace is as much a bold artistic statement as it is a great album…these four songs sound like traditional folk-inspired steel-string instrumentals that have been electrified, softened, slowed down, blurred, and improvised into something new… Dean wields his battery of pedals in a remarkably nuanced and ingenious way…if it finds its way to enough ears, this masterful and subtly mesmerizing effort should quietly ensconce McPhee in the upper echelon of contemporary solo guitarists (which is exactly where he belongs)”. (Brainwashed).

“On his debut album, Yorkshire based solo electric guitarist Dean McPhee delivers four lengthy pieces, all recorded in a single take with no overdubs. Subtle use of volume pedal, tremolo and echo delay gives his Fender Telecaster, an instrument known for the sharpness and clarity of its sound, a sweet and luminous tone. The hallmark of McPhee’s style is a picked bassline and free-ranging variations on melodic ideas via a mesmerising progression of harmonics, cleanly picked notes, full chords and string-bending arab-esques…Son of the Black Peace is a 37 minute gem of an album”. (The Wire Magazine)

“Son of the Black Peace is as devastatingly beautiful as Michael Chapman’s Fully Qualified Survivor, the best of John Fahey, John Martyn, and the most meditative lines Richard Thompson has ever played…the comparisons to other guitar greats will wear off in due time—McPhee is too good not to be recognized as the magnificent talent that he is. Listen to the four compositions here—although they are separate entities, it seems senseless to single any of them out, an act that would be like isolating one Faulkner sentence or one note from Beethoven. You’ll discover exactly how great McPhee truly is”. (Popmatters)

Brown Bear (12″EP/CD/DL)

“The music on ‘Brown Bear’ is in essence simple and elemental – built from a single electric guitar and what sounds like a couple of delay pedals. Each of the 3 tracks, recorded live in one take, are full of an extraordinary sense of space and light; and at times this sounds so natural, and so fluid, as to be of the very earth“. (Mountain 7)

“The magnificent solo guitar playing of Dean McPhee is beautifully documented on “Brown Bear” A three track 45 with all tracks recorded in one take. Opening side one “Sky Burial” is a gently flowing piece that slows down time, the skilful playing matched by the emotions contained within, the mood continued as “Stony Ground” takes over, shades of Garcia evident as the guitar dances gracefully into the sky. As if those two tracks weren’t worthy of the entry price alone, the b-side contains the title track, a ten minute curl of perfumed guitar notes that should be an essential part of anyone’s collection, the sublime feel of the track ensuring plenty of airtime around these parts, the ideal way to relax into a chilled evening with those you love” (Terrascope)

“Arguably the best solo guitar record in the past few years. 10/10 “ (Foxy Digitalis)