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Paul Bibbins - Disenchantment at a Distance (self-released)

27 October 2023

No doubt he’s probably weary of the comparison, but it’s impossible to ignore Paul Bibbins’ nodding to the venerable Jimi Hendrix throughout this quartet of tunes. (It speaks volumes too that he is a right-handed man who plays guitar as a leftie!)However, I wouldn’t label this as mere mimicry or homage to past glories. Absolutely not. What we have here is an evolution of those sonic concepts, a jubilation of his slinky and surreal style, and a continuation of the psychedelic tradition into the contemporary age. And it’s brilliant. Not everything has to be revolutionary; why not latch onto a style you adore and explore its uncharted sonic territories? It works wonders for Paul Bibbins, and Disenchantment at a Distance stands as undeniable proof.

“Bold, Beautiful.. and Long Gone” embarks on a mesmerizing journey through somewhat unhinged psychedelic landscapes, stitching together varied time signatures and unexpected transitions as Bibbins’ toys with the sonic accelerator. “Thrill Walk” possesses more focus, albeit only just. Such notions are relative in this context, but the song brims with swagger and audacity, eventually delivering us to the title track. It drifts in and out of a trippy six-string reverie, brimming with intricate creativity before mellowing into a comfortable groove. “Vista Valley Drift” closes the chapter in style, an instrumental workout showcasing Paul Bibbins’ prowess.

Blues and psych aficionados will undoubtedly revel in this offering, particularly if a polished veneer isn’t a prerequisite for their listening pleasure. And I mean that in the most complimentary manner, not as a derogatory remark. A substantial portion of these songs’ appeal arises from their ragged magnificence, the authenticity coursing through each note and subtlety. Furthermore, among all the genres, isn’t blues the one that prioritizes substance over style, raw emotion over refined presentation? The punks may assert that they championed the “just do it” attitude, but the blues charted that course first.