A recent cover story on Brightblack Morning Light in Arthur magazine reads as an unintentionally hilarious stereotype of stoners, embracing the L.A. Times snark about the group looking like "the hippies in a pot-themed episode of Dragnet." In Arthur, the two Alabama natives who compose Brightblack Morning Light, Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes (AKA Nabob and Rabob, respectively), speak about Native Americans wandering for days so as to hear the desert's voice and becoming vegetarians so as to suppress their "hunter mind." They also reveal themselves to be card-carrying members of the exclusive Marin Sativa Club, which sounds like a Playboy mansion chockfull of High Times centerfolds.

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Okay, so the interview excerpts read like the hokum that generally accompanies smoke-'em peace-pipe dialogues (see college dorm rooms), yet for all the gentle vibes, Nabob had a meltdown at a recent show at the Troubadour down in L.A. "How could someone so high and attuned to nature freak out?" you may ask. The answer was put to me by another famous Southern musician who also relocated out west (see a recent US Weekly for a clue), who stated that no matter the amount of free love and peace speak, he still slept with an axe handle under the bed. Meaning, Southern paranoia has a way of lingering around its expats like so much patchouli oil.

The title of Brightblack's Matador debut, Brightblack Morning Light, embraces that paradox of yin and yang, of night and light, of war and peace, yet the album itself veers toward the mellow yellow. In fact, it's the best wake-and-bake album ever created, the one Royal Trux's Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema would've concocted were they members of Marin rather than on methadone treatments. The backstory relates how the music came together in a converted chicken shack the couple inhabited at the edge of the redwoods, and in that spirit, the art contains shots of tepees. American spirits aside, Nabob and Rabob replicate that tingling sensation accompanying bong pulls and their fuzzy aftereffects, conjuring a music that slowly swirls like the motes of smoke seen in the early sun, dissolving time altogether.

Rather than trying to go someplace, Brightblack lay back, content instead to hotbox the room space with dreamy exhalations. Nabob makes heavily tremoloed glissades on slide guitar, suggesting a Duane Allman on the nod, meandering and merging with Rabob. Ever so gently, she assuages chords out of her Fender Rhodes, evocative of that instrument's telltale sound and storied history: each note conjuring such forebears as Miles Davis's "In a Silent Way," the Doors' "Riders on the Storm," Idris Muhammad's "Loran Dance," and an innumerable amount of Southern-gospel cuts.

The album's 10 titles feature the plodding of these two mainstays while eddies of flute, trombone, shaken chimes, and gourds appear and dissipate, all of it gently propelled by brushed cymbals, gongs, backward-tracked drums, and gurgles of hand percussion. Collaborators include A Perfect Circle's Paz Lenchantin, White Magic's Andy Macleod, trombonist Roy Buell Agee, and the resonant harmony vocals of Ann McCrary and Gail W est (who also back the Staple Singers), who conspire to create this prolonged sense of suspension, all of it beatifically captured by producer Thom Monahan (who also recorded Vetiver's sumptuous Find Me Gone).

Having had most summer mornings soundtracked by Brightblack Morning Light, I find it's still hard to parse songs and titles out of the haze, to mark where tracks end, as it all flows and unfurls as one extended suite. Taken soberly, the limited palette creates a prolonged mood over the entire album that borders on sounding samey and tedious. But in a haze not unlike My Bloody Valentine and Spiritualized, the 10-minute centerpiece "Star Blanket River Child" echoes both Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space and Eat a Peach, while "Amber Canyon Magik" could stand in for the Twin Peaks theme. Rather than choruses and verses, the whispered vocals are like some disembodied choir hovering in the ether, as mesmeric or disinterested as your own mind state.

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Perhaps it's akin to going camping and watching the sun rise: Is your favorite moment at 6:32 a.m.? 6:48? 7:03? Does time really matter when set against the continuum of nature? Digging the landscape, Nabob mumbles in the Arthur article about such subjectivity: "There's a mystery already here and you're participating in it." recommended

editor@thestranger.com