Composer and veritable cult leader Chris Schlarb is known for his far-out, deeply collaborative jazz and folk music. Over the life of his Psychic Temple project, he’s released two dreamy and intricate full-lengths, Psychic Temple and Psychic Temple II, which culled vocal and instrumental support from Sufjan Stevens, DM Stith, Julianna Barwick, and Aaron Roche, among many others. The Asthmatic Kitty stalwart has been veering toward a more song-based, lyric-centric approach since 2010’s debut LP, and on the forthcoming III we finally hear Schlarb’s own voice at the fore.
“You Ain’t A Star” is Psychic Temple at what’s perhaps its least orchestral, which is just to say that Schlarb has steered his band further in the direction of rock—it’s no less collaborative or complex than his previous endeavors. Driving bass from Minutemen’s Mike Watt and brightly strummed electric guitars from Schlarb and Aaron Roche push the pop melody forward; and a clearing at the song’s center makes way for some acoustic fingerpicking and violin over the heavy bass groove. Schlarb’s voice is hushed and throaty as he intimates, “No one remembers your name / what’s worth less than fame?” The soulful breakout of “You ain’t a star—no, no, no, no!” in the refrain is so upbeat, it’s like a sigh of relief—as if Schlarb is assuring us that the limelight is never all it’s cracked up to be anyway.
You can stream “You Ain’t A Star”, and read line by line what went into its writing and recording, from the lyric video below. Psychic Temple’s III is due out May 6 on Asthmatic Kitty Records.