There’s an adventurous spirit with Indianapolis-based musician/songwriter Mark Tester’s new album Super Hiss. More than a collection of songs, it’s a vast gallery of passing thoughts and sparks of creativity captured on tape. Short clips of guitar, synth, and synthetic instruments derived from floppy disk. Pop-inflected psychedelic vignettes that feel like waking from a vivid dream, or the moment just before you realize you’re actually in a dream.
Tester plays in Crazy Doberman and in Caldwell/Tester, alongside longtime collaborator Landon Caldwell, with whom he also co-runs the experimental label Medium Sound. But on his Moon Glyph Records debut Super Hiss, Mark Tester builds a musical beast of absolute imagination and lo fi joy. Bits of Brian Wilson’s effervescent wonder in the song arrangements with the DIY beauty of Olivia Tremor Control’s post-grunge psychedelia, Mark Tester’s Super Hiss is the album equivalent of finding a message in a bottle floating in space.
Super Hiss isn’t a collection of songs more than it’s a collection of singular moments. Vignettes of emotion and ideas trapped on woolly tape loops, created with guitars, synthesizers, and faux noise makers that sit in for the real thing. These are musical companions to a restless mind and the wandering thought. Spaced-out psychedelia you would hear emanating from a radio in a dream or on a commercial back in the 70s. Segue music in-between shows on PBS. These are tiny musical moments of wonder that hint at bigger things just behind the clouds.
Songs like “Universal Window”, “Low Hanging Fog”, “Morning Rounds”, and “Brookside Parkway” are songs for deeper contemplation. The heaviness of the day can be eased with a moment of clarity as these songs play in your ear. “Anywhere But Here” on the other hand has a playfulness to it with its extraneous noise and jaunty synth notes. “Falling Backwards” sounds like electronic and sonic experimentation at its finest.
Super Hiss is an artist reaching into the subconscious for inspiration. These are free form expressions; dreams as songs built from the ground up, following the muse up the beanstalk to wherever it may lead. In Mark Tester’s case, somewhere between a waking dream and the ether.
7.9 out of 10
Super Hiss is out now via Moon Glyph Records. Buy it here.