Blackest Ever Black presents To Make A Fool Ask, And You Are The First, the latest - and, for us, greatest - full-length entry in Ashtray Navigations'uniquely important, uniquely sprawling - possibly sentient and self-multiplying - discography.
It picks up where the nerve-damaged exotica of 2015's A Shimmering Replica left off - ¦acerbic 'surf' guitar and synthetic salt-breeze fit for the Tropic of Yorkshire. Instant immersion in a potent, pungent psychedelia that feels equal parts cosmic and aquatic.
What Todd wrenches out of his instrument these days is a language unto itself (perhaps it always was) - ¦ a helical, ecstatic, grieving howl - ¦a (super)natural efflorescence, beyond earthly description or transcription - ¦ur-rock and post-everything. But equal emphasis is given here to pulsating machine rhythms and lush keyboard textures, with killer contributions from longtime fellow traveller Mel O'Dubhshlaine.
There were pre-echoes of all this in the recent(ish) Fluctuants and Aero Infinite: but To Make A Fool feels like the culmination, or the fullest expression, of something which was only glimpsed in those earlier works.
The side-long Spray Two' - gently eddying string-pads gradually slashed to all f***k with fraught piano improvisations - is a masterpiece in its own right. At its delirious peak, the whole thing boils over into brooding, arpeggiated noir-techno - Michael Mann's steadicam roaming Leeds'B-roads, some kind of tangerine nightmare - before finally cooling into a bleary starfield of pure and sumptuous hypno-tone.
This LP is a trip, in the most skull-splitting, soul-crinkling sense of the word, but it soothes and heals as well. A circular and transformative journey to the other side of the underneath and a landmark recording from one of the most adept and visionary nodes in Britain's freakout underground.
1. (Another) Hour Of The Grubber
2. A Crimson Coin
3. Bellow Organs Spine
4. Spray Two