What's your favourite record named after a famous book?

I'll leave that one hanging. Guardian Alien is a project led by experimental New York drummer Greg Fox, erstwhile member of Liturgy and now the head honcho of his own marauding and interchangeable band of experimentalists. Guardian Alien has been through a number of live incarnations, with varying membership and compositions. Fox's second collection of work is frequently as passionate as it is uneven.

The group's sound most commonly comprises furiously complex rhythms overlaid with electronic noodling, some delicious bass guitar and offbeat vocals. Fox is a master of the drums - at times the lay listener is left breathless at the technique he can call on - and avoiding making an entire album sound like an extended drum solo is his first achievement. When the group are allowed room for expression, preferably during live takes, and when the orchestration is driven by Fox's rhythms, the music is at its most immediate. The moments where Spiritual Emergency lags come with the removal of its backbone.

If there is a common thread to the album's narrative, it is the individual's journey towards spiritual awakening, but this can tend to be lost in the early stages through a confusing array of too short or too long compositions that feel at times like they would have benefited from a more rigorous editing process. I rarely criticise an album for its running order - this is one of those occasions.

The muddle is unfortunate, because the album begins with a really stunning piece of work. 'Tranquilizer' is a meditative joy that brings to mind Asa-Chang and Junray's giddy experimentalism in its sloshing invocation of purgatory and shamanistic equilibrium. Fox creates tight, intricate drum patterns with lightning fast rolls that puncture the otherwise steady, urgent structure. Particular mention must be made of the bass work, which achieves a remarkable gaiety and lightness of touch. As an opener, it seems to fit perfectly well with what follows, the bludgeoning 'Mirror', which acts as a kind of portal from the initial serenity of the opener. The piece could perfectly soundtrack the scene in Inception where we visit the collapsing buildings that represent Leonardo DiCaprio's deepest consciousness. The track is cut off weirdly prematurely, not being allowed to flower in the same way as the best parts of the album.

Taking the idea of 'Spiritual Emergency' at face value would suggest that the listening experience should be a chaotic, painful mess. In fact, the theory by Stanislav Grof on which the album is based makes a play on the word 'emergency' to suggest a new movement or progression, literally an emergence into a new state of mind, rather than a collapse into anarchy. 'Tranquilizer' feels like a serene Buddhist contemplation. If 'Mirage' is a religious belief, it is perhaps Scientology. Bearing little apparent narrative or form, it relies upon a muddy, misty aesthetic that is unsatisfyingly shallow compared to what surrounds it.

The album builds towards the title track, a twenty minute rush of free, abstract rise-and-fall development that sees Fox re-design his entire spiritual landscape from scratch. From the messy, depressing illogic of 'Mirage', the centrepiece feels like a well constructed argument, signposted with mesmeric, minimalist, trance-like guitar work. Fox's rhythms become totemic, appearing to toss up pillars from which a balanced consciousness can emerge. It will take a patient, contemplative listener to fully appreciate the picture that emerges.

Some exclusive photos courtesy of the band.