Tuesday 23 July 2013

Mechanimal - Mechanimal

Album review by jay@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk

It's one of the hottest days so far, and Mechanimal's sublime and indulgent self-titled debut proves to be a fitting soundtrack for a day where you don't want to rush anything and simply laze and bathe in the languorous heat before the coming storm breaks. Dark, sensual, provocative opener 'Funny' comes on like Tindersticks with an industrial edge. It has warp-like ambient sound flashes and heady, lyrical vibes which tell of the carnage and carnal. 'Schnitt' is more vibrant but still shaded with those darkened hues. It has a pure motorik undercurrent that enlivens and lifts the track close to a modern day Can. Through the album, vocals are spoken pieces, monolithic, melodic mantras that weave dark tales within the songs. Next, 'Un/Mobility' takes the krautrock template and fuses it with modern post-punk guitar and gives you a transcendental song that yearns for you to get lost inside. You hear of  "I hear the blues" and a "ritual desire" which gives 'Un/Mobility' an unexpected warmth. A compressed vocal is stretched into a similarly compressed synth line, before 'Motorik' hones into view. It has the lightest of touches so far, more akin to early OMD and Depeche Mode than the Germanic '70s originators. It doesn't have the mesmerising draw of 'Un/Mobility', but by gorging on that robotic beat, it is hard to resist.

"I creeped up on a roach today and squashed out its life". And so starts 'Dead Roach Blues'. It comes across as the twisted cousin of 'Everybody's Free To Wear Suncreen'. A dark journey through a world of purgatory on a dirty, 25th century blues ride. After the depth and invigorating opening stanzas, 'Hole In My Heart' feels a bit inconsequential. It passes you by with a reminiscent value of a Lo-Fidelity Allstars track. And at over seven minutes it outstays its welcome. 'Mechanimal' is now trying hard to regain its footing, almost as if a little numbed by 'Hole In My Heart'. You find it hard to focus onto 'Ghost', while it is not the whiteout of the previous track, it has little to sink into. 'Sick Track' fares better and has some sterling stabbing synths in its last quarter, but these three songs are all overlong and hold very little to draw you in or stay with you.

Penultimate track, 'In Somber Accent', finds 'Mechanimal' sharpening up, stepping back into that post-motorik vibe. It glows where before they were wading and wallowed. 'In Somber Accent' is the lost soundtrack to the sunrise on some distant moon, where four suns of different colours rise. In contrast we hear of "spreading some common sense on the bread", as if to give the track a dose of reality.  Then we are drenched in more sunkissed sounds to wash over us. And so to the final act of Mechanimal's album,'Low Land'. With the hardest beats of the album, the whole track is filled with a vibrant sense of urgency, propelled on those beats. 'Low Lands' closes out the album with a fearless panache. It then finds a modern, wondrous, electronic psychedelic touch which stands next to The Chemical Brothers best of 'Sunshine Underground' and 'Escape Velocity'. 'Mechanimal' may falter in its middle, but it also produces some challenging, startling and hypnotic music for you to regale in.

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