While Glasgow-based musician Richard Youngs is a great guitarist, he’s never used the guitar as a crutch. But on his latest full-length, Amplifying Host, he takes a pass on the glitches and drones that infest much of his sprawling catalog and leans heavily on the six-string. It doesn’t make the disc any easier to listen to. Easy listening isn’t Young’s wheelhouse, though, and Amplifying Host’s gaunt improvisation and gauzy textures orbit atonality even as they sketch the silhouette of a haunted, dust-blown folk.
Drawing from his recent collaboration with legendary recluse Jandek—not to mention skeletal backing from Galaxie 500’s rhythm section, Damon & Naomi—Youngs wanders throughout Amplifying Host, only to return where he started. Most of the album’s six tracks begin in the same place, with a blue note bent harshly against Youngs’ own meandering arpeggios. Harmony is perverted as often as it is preserved. But as fluid plucking coagulates into ghostly chords, Youngs’ foggy moan casts shadows. “This is the music of exultation / This is the time of fulfillment,” he sings on the disc’s closer, “This Is The Music.” But he delivers those lines with a loner’s desolate joy.