Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mysterious Mysteries - s/t

Mysterious Mysteries self titled EP is perhaps the most cohesively written pieces of music I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Even though lyrics are scarce, and there are no repeated musical or lyrical themes, there seems to be a strong plot that strings each song together without them morphing into one composition. This EP plays like a novel that while short, is extremely interesting from start to finish.

Opening track “Chapter One” serves as an introduction to the scenery where the story will take place. Reverberated guitars drone ominously as an eerie bird-call echoes on the air. This seems to cleanse the musical palette, as a lilting finger-picked bassline fades in until it reaches full volume, and second track “Chapter Two” begins. The drums and bass lock tight together and lay the foundation for vocalist Jade Soto’s soft, throaty croon. Soto possesses a smoky tone that seems to channel jazz singers of old. Both the vocal melodies and those carried by the guitar are simple, yet memorable. Towards the end of the track, the band gains momentum, and conflict builds into a monstrous wall of dissonance until the clash is gloriously resolved, and the track rides out on a major chord and all-around good vibes. As the plot thickens, “Chapter Two” showcases a conflict which is ultimately resolved as the parties go their separate ways and to quote Soto “say their goodbye.” Of special note is the amazing slide guitar that closes out the track.

Track three paints an image of a sunny, spacious scene with a bright guitar cadence and smooth vocals. A new character is introduced when bassist Brandon Musa lends his voice to provide a new dimension to both the sound and the plot. It is now clear that “Chapter Three” outlines a passionate love story. The anecdote is told with clever metaphors comparing the choosing of a lover to picking fruit from a tree. But be careful! There is no way to tell if you’re fruit is fermented until you take a bite!

As track three fades to a close, we are met with the interlude of “Chapter Four.” Simple ukulele and bells serve as accompaniment as Soto sings of a longing for the past. “Chapter Five” opens with a western-styled guitar lick, painting a picture of a lonely desert road. As the track wears on however, the plot evolves to include a triumphant and climactic march.

I won’t spoil the final two tracks, or “Chapters” as the band calls them, but you would be doing yourself a favor to check out Mysterious Mysteries. With a sound that draws from the theatrical leanings of Mogwai, the shimmering buildups of Explosions in the Sky, a little bit of the experimental side of Deerhoof, and an emotional intensity all their own, there are nuances to their sound that will please even the pickiest of critics.

This is as much of a story as it is a piece of music, and considering this is the band’s first release, there is no reason to believe that their next record will be anything short of breathtaking. Does the story end in triumphant fanfare, or in a fateful dirge? In either case, the suspense created while listening for an answer keeps the ears attentive until the very last note.


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