Hallways of Always: Magical Mind

Hallways of Always
Magical Mind
Long Play Records

Why would Iowa folkie William Elliott Whitmore and Erase Errata frontwoman Jenny Hoyston re-record the six songs from their 2006 EP Hallways of Always for a vinyl-only release? Only they know for sure, but on their return, this time calling themselves Hallways of Always, the performances do seem sharper. The vocals are certainly cleaner and clearer in the mix, but the chief difference is dropping many of the buzzing analog synthesizers for acoustic instrumentation. Both “Feast of a Thousand Beasts” and “You’ve Already Gone” featured lo-fi synths which have been replaced by a singing saw and a violin respectively.

Both Hoyston and Whitmore contribute new compositions, making it a full-length effort, which they’ve dubbed Magical Mind. Whitmore’s latest, “Heavy Load,” closes off the first side of Magical Mind. It actually relies on some of the very same electronics that were replaced by live instrumentation elsewhere as a tiny drum machine keeps pace with Whitmore’s fingerpicking. The new Whitmore cut is a meditation on perseverance. The chorus, “It’s a mighty heavy load/But not any more than her back can hold” becomes a bit of a mantra, in fact, seeming to echo throughout the fading ambient hiss as the song ends.

Hoyston’s new track, “Out of My Mind,” may be the album standout. She’s created a haunting track with only a shuffling acoustic strum and a bubbling sea of wheezes, hums and hisses. “Out of My Mind” is perpetually unraveling, as chirps and burps bounce off, swallow, fade into one another with only the guitar to keep any structure. But Hoyston’s voice is the eerie thread which holds this psychedelic-tinged ballad together. She floats elegantly over Whitmore’s cellar-deep growls during the chorus, sounding more saddened than crazy as she cries out the song’s title.