Home XIV

This is questing, elaborate music with a grandeur and scale that most bands would've been too self-conscious to attempt...

In 1998, the preternaturally glittering prize went to [a]Mercury Rev[/a]’s ‘Deserter’s Songs’. In 1999, The Flaming Lips took the honours with ‘The Soft Bulletin’. Now, the anticipation for this year’s Great American Psychedelic Record already sees serious money being put on Grandaddy‘s fine forthcoming opus, ‘The Sophtware Slump’.

First, though, there’s an unexpected yet highly qualified outside challenger. Home come from Tampa, Florida, live in New York City and have released an immense number of hard-to-get-hold-of albums and tapes. ‘Home XIV’‘s credentials are further enhanced by it being recorded by Lips/Rev/Mogwai producer Dave Fridmann, with the assistance of Lips bassist Michael Ivins.

What makes ‘Home XIV’ so excellent, beyond the data, is a similarly untethered ambition and spirit. This is questing, elaborate music with a grandeur and scale that most bands would’ve been too self-conscious to attempt – for fear of being labelled prog and portentous – not so long ago.

The sheer density of ideas here can be a little daunting, as Home’s four instrument-swapping, vocal-sharing members stagger through parched country, dysfunctional jazz, psychedelic rock, a Van Dyke Parks-ish orchestral fantasia called ‘Children’s Suite: 3: Displaying Prisms’ and the odd nose flute interlude. When it all gels, however – on the backwoods symphony of ‘Burden’, or the swoops and angles of ‘The Fable Of Salty Water’ – it becomes apparent Home and this wonderful album deserve to be judged as The Flaming Lips family’s contemporaries, not their derivatives.

“Don’t be mistaken, what you’re taking/Is a trip fantastic”, begins ‘So Much Love’. For once, you can’t help but agree.