Julie Slick + Marco Machera – Fourth Dementia (2014)

Sparked by a meeting between Marco Marchero and Julie Slick as the latter toured through Italy with the Crimson ProjeKCt, Fourth Dementia is the sound of two unique voices finding their own rhythm.

Slick ends up playing the more guitar-like six-string Lakland VI and handling effects, while Marchera switches between low-end sounds and external objects on his various basses. Even so, they might have created something that stratified into separate visions, swinging wildly from one thing to the next. Or they might have walked all over one another, missing the empty spaces.

Instead, something sparks. Fourth Dementia (available now via Bandcamp) unfolds like a fascinating conversation between new friends discovering previously unknown commonalities at a busy side-street cafe, urgent at times and never more than a confidential whisper at others.

They recorded these songs basically as strangers, but it doesn’t feel that way. Not with Machera and Slick tip toeing down the finest of lines, creating something in Fourth Dementia that is both a wonder of intricate control but also emotionally open in a way that many progressive instrumental albums simply refuse to be. One pushes, then the other pulls. One charges ahead, and the other lays back.

As such, you have moments both expected (“Esteem,” powered along by a tough-minded turn by drummer Pat Mastelotto, hews closer to the kind of furious elasticity associated with Slick’s work in the Adrian Belew Power Trio and Crimson ProjeKCt bands) and utterly new: “Green,” one of four tracks that feature Julie’s brother Eric Slick on drums, unfolds with a tender delicacy. Then there’s the ambient reverie that surrounds “Ci Provo,” something only heightened by the Cocteau Twins-inspired showers of wordless exhalations, courtesy of Machera.

Fourth Dementia doesn’t stay in one place for too long, deftly shifting into the untethered noise experiments of “Feck You Op” before returning once more to these insistently optimistic expanses inside “Infinity X 1.” Sarah Flossy Anderson adds new dimensions to both “Overcome,” and then “Krush.” With the first, she creates a billowing storm cloud of ambient synth expectancy. On the other, this placid viola counterpoint within the urgent fiddle rush.

Finally, there’s the vista-expanding “1986,” which leaves Fourth Dementia on a note as perfectly wrought as it persistently hopeful.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.