Chance’s manic, unforgettable In Search album is now finally available, after more than thirty years of waiting. You’ll want to pick up a copy of this deeply personal, obsessive Nashville countrydelic masterpiece ASAP, but don’t take our word for it. Here’s a selection of the rave reviews coming in what promises to be one of the year’s most memorable releases. (Click on the publication or website name for the full article or review.)
Chance Martin’s In Search is the kind of totally warped holy grail artifact that I wish Nashville in the golden era had produced more of. A fully integral sonic rest stop of gratuitous guitar fuzz, wandering beat poetry, nightclub moves, and hi-tech studio possibility, it’s an album for the stoned midnight cowboy, the final port of call for the wild and weird era of the music row outlaws. It’s hard to imagine a record both so intentionally psychedelic and unintentionally cosmic.
- William Tyler
A lost countrydelic masterpiece from a sideman to the stars. The record sounds like nothing else on earth. It sounds, at times, like Isaac Hayes doing the watusi with Captain Beefheart. Chance’s tales of the Dead End, as detailed in the album’s sleevenotes, are the stuff of screenplays (and may soon become one).
- Alastair McKay, Uncut
One of the most wondrously strange records to ever emerge out of Music City, USA. God only knows what the Man In Black thought of this mutant hybrid of outlaw country, gonzo psychedelia, coked out funk and soulful slo-jams. We could spend days trying to slot it into a convenient category, but let’s just agree to call it totally fucking unclassifiable, a universe of its own. In the liners (which are worth the price of admission alone) Chance himself reveals the album’s secret ingredients: “Mud, blood and beer!” You’re gonna love it.
- Tyler Wilcox, Aquarium Drunkard
Not only the authentic article, it is virtually unlike any record ever made. This is the sound of the musically mythological brought to tape. The songs reflect the murky yet ecstatic zone Chance and his collaborators discovered, where spaced-out psychedelic rock, hard outlaw country, tough mid-’70s Southern funk, disco, and strutting garage rock commingled and bred a musical dialogue and aesthetic so contradictory it became its own language. It’s excessive yet focused. It’s sprawling, Dionysian, and mercurial, yet earthy and warm. This record is enormous in scope; it cannot be categorized. Electric guitars, basses, tubular bells, keyboards, horns, congas, drums, nature sounds, and a gorgeously soulful female backing chorus all support Martin’s basement-deep baritone that walks a line between Waylon Jennings’, Tony Joe White’s, and Cash’s. In Search is outsider art at its best. Guided by Martin’s vision and shaped via collective process, it uses familiar forms to create a spaced-out language all its own; it is a listening experience like no other.
- Thom Jurek, Allmusic
A surreal, psychedelic, unprecedented and un-imitated album… a lost psychedelic classic, utterly original. Splendidly chaotic celebrations of wine, women and song… One of Nashville music history’s stranger and more compelling albums… in all its unsettling, unusually unusual glory.
- Peter Cooper, The Tennessean
While Johnny Cash portrayed himself as the Man in Black, a lonesome outlaw figure roaming the outskirts of country and western, there was usually one man by his side to act as the Tonto to his Lone Ranger: Chance Martin. From his first note, Martin’s voice is the immediate draw, a version of Cash’s deep, authoritative pipes and sagely storyteller vibe made fresh with bits of wayfaring troubadour and intergalactic shaman. From there, the music does the rest of the psychedelic work, slowly evolving from a dusty country-folk tune with shades of hazy fuzz to an all-out rock and roll freak-out. It’s like if Cash had never married June Carter, instead living out his days in the desert doing peyote and proselytizing folks about the power of broken hearts.
- Chris Coplan, Consequence of Sound
You can’t make this stuff up. Thirty years have done nothing to dull this oddity. In Search is a mind-bending mélange of mescalin-buzzed country-rock, surrealist-manifesto disco, coke-addled funk, and chicken-fried prog. There are no rules in Chance’s world, so if he wants to indulge some easy-listening strings, make like Barry White visiting a Stuckey’s, or drop “Theme from ‘Peter Gunn’” right in the middle of a song…who’s going to tell him no? It sounds like a man cramming a lifetime of musical dares into 70 minutes of music… but Martin’s sense of humor — self-deprecating, self-deflating, but somehow self-mythologizing — ensures you won’t turn it off until the last cosmic notes of closer “Drema” have faded.
- Stephen Deusner, eMusic
A countrydelic odyssey bridging raunchy funk and idyllic pop, outlaw balladry and Technicolor acid tests. It could have been a classic… Think Cash in a narcotic rage.
- Jordan Lawrence, The Nashville Scene
An otherworldly mix of country, garage, and psychedelia, a little-heard Southern Gothic gem delivered by a spacesuit-wearing lovin’ man. A countrydelic masterpiece.
- Kyle McGovern, Spin
A cosmic shit-kicker of a tune if there ever was one, “Mr. Freedom Man” moves from a spacey synth intro to a hard-hitting, should-be-a-biker-anthem with acidic guitar solos galore.
The songs are great, anchored in old-school twang and irreverent humor… but the stories that Chance tells in the accompanying oral history are worth a listen, too.