Members came and went during Los Angeles–based Idaho’s early-’90s pioneering (along with Low and Red House Painters) of slowcore, but Santa Monica schoolyard chums Jeff Martin and John Berry remained intact as the nucleus—at least until Martin tired of Berry playing shows with a broken heroin needle in his arm. After a hiatus, Martin eventually resumed the band as pretty much a solo act on Hearts of Palm and Levitate, masterly new new-age pop albums whose tracks are cohesively mixed to suspend time. (Libération, a famously leftist French daily newspaper founded in 1973 by Jean-Paul Sartre, listed Hearts of Palm as one of its top five albums of 2000, alongside antagonistic efforts from Radiohead and Johnny Cash.)
On The Lone Gunman (the guest tuba on “You Flew” repudiates the title), Martin trades in that magical fusion of guitar, keys, and electronic interstitials for dalliances with a Wurly cut and pasted together, using Pro Tools software, with scraps left over from sessions scoring TV shows and commercials. As a result, there’s no continuity—no conflicted artist’s overarching story line—among the stunted six out of 16 tracks that last less than two minutes and few fleshed-out cuts. The back-to-back-to-back run of “The Mystery,” “Live Today Again,” and “When Sunday Comes,” though, is a trifecta of classic Martin—ethereal compositions ensconcing earnest lyrical outpouring in a much tapped Eno vein.