LA studio rat Chris Schlarb keeps evolving his lush Psychic Temple project | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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LA studio rat Chris Schlarb keeps evolving his lush Psychic Temple project

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LA guitarist, singer, and songwriter Chris Schlarb earns his bread as a recording engineer, and over the years he’s turned his studio, Big Ego, into his personal laboratory, routinely bottling the musical lightning produced by whoever’s passing through. The project Psychic Temple is the fruit of Schlarb’s experimentation, and with each recording he’s presented an increasingly unified sound. His new album, Psychic Temple IV (Joyful Noise), features his most diverse cast yet, including contributions from veteran British blues-rock singer Terry Reid, former Chicago jazz drummer Chad Taylor, 87-year-old session bassist Max Bennett (who played on two of the greatest Joni Mitchell albums), Cherry Glazerr drummer Tabor Allen, pop chanteuse Nedelle Torrisi, and a slew of LA jazz heavies. As with previous installments, Schlarb’s guidance channels the disparate talent into something luxuriously coherent, updating 70s-style singer-songwriter traditions for the present. The gently psychedelic “Dream Dictionary” harks back to the spirit of Steely Dan, with Schlarb and Reid harmonizing wonderfully, while the liquid pedal steel of Dave Easley imparts a shot of exotica into imploring, skeletal album opener “Spanish Beach.” The record achieves a masterful balance of soulful melodic delirium and detail-rich arrangements that never get bogged down by their baroque flourishes. On this tour, Schlarb leads a trio with fellow guitarist and singer Leeann Skoda and violinist-mandolinist Philip Glenn.   v

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