Stephen R. Smith returns to the valley of Ulaan. Or rather he's always been there, recently cranking out releases under the Ulaan Passerine moniker and Ulaan Khol monikers, though he's always held a place in our hearts as Hala Strana. The latest turn as Ulaan Markhor smoothes the fire and fits of Khol and refines the languidity of Passerine into an album of fluid, propulsive instrumentals that have a head in the German Progressive movement and a foot firmly planted in psychedelic American rock tipping out of the late 70's. The drums never hit that motorik tick but the bass certainly does and there's an expansiveness and float that's sharing space at the lunchtable with some kosmiche cronies. The album's ten feet thick in a cloud of ether but with an oddly nostalgic tilt that seems to lurch up out of the smoke and swirl to pull at some forgotten regrets. In merging the ennui and prog into a digestible genre it seems that Smith has found the cinematic heart of stoner rock and given it a breathing soul; something that also gives it a considerable amount of heft as well. Its good to see Soft Abuse kicking some releases back onto the table as well as they've been scant in the last few years but what comes is always very welcome from that stable.
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