Chris Forsyth: All Time Present (2019)

I kinda stumbled across guitarist Chris Forsyth without knowing a lot about him, other than that he was well-regarded in some Dead circles. His work is primarily instrumental, ranging from experimental and ambient to more traditional rock-oriented jams. Last year's excellent All Time Present is an ideal entry point; with 8 songs checking in at about 90 minutes, it's long on extended instrumental workouts perfect for chilling out, but it's also pretty riff-heavy, at times sounding like a long-lost 70s classic rock album where the vocals should be kicking in any minute. There are some cool psychedelic grooves, but with a contemporary vibe rather than a retro-60s feel (conjuring up some of Dream Syndicate's recent work).

Opener "Tomorrow Might Be The Day" is just terrific, a jangly, Byrdsy rocker with a riff reminiscent of Luna's "Sideshow by the Seashore," much more foreground attention-grabber than ambient background music. And closer "Techno Top" is a 20-minute funk groove with some flashy guitar work, like the centerpiece of an extended live Phish jam after the last verse has faded.

There are also a couple rare vocal tracks to mix things up. On "Mystic Mountain," a rousing rocker straight out of the Neil Young & Crazy Horse playbook, Forsyth himself does a bit of singing (I'd actually assumed it was Kurt Vile guesting), giving the piece a bit more structure; while singer Rosali Middleman adds some entrancing vocals to the trippy, psychedelic "Dream Song." A couple tunes ("The Man Who Knew Too Much," "(Livin' On) Cubist Time") are more traditional ambient pieces, almost new age-infused, providing a bit of a cool-down between the higher-energy tracks.

Pretty great stuff throughout, whether you're kicking back and giving it your full attention or just needing some largely non-vocal music to backdrop something else you're doing. Buy it at Bandcamp.

Here's a live performance of "Tomorrow":

Here's a live, instrumental take on "Dream Song":

...and a live "Mystic Mountain":

By the way, if you're in need of more instrumental music, here's an old playlist I put together awhile back: