Menimals – s/t
BLOGSPOT – http://menimalsepk.blogspot.com/
There are few releases this year that push the envelope as hard as the Menimals self-titled debut. The five song collection veers wildly from ambient infused European rock to outright sound collages with scattered instrumentation. None of the songs are pure sound or instrumentals, but the vocals are quite unlike anything you’ll hear on mainstream pop releases. The outfit promotes themselves through a high brow concept – each of its four members is intended to embody the examination of Platonic and alchemical ideals and the presentation extends to their names. The vocals are handled by American Doctor Forge, while Italian musicians round out the rest of the band. Their adopted monikers of The Rat, The Chimera, and The Gryphon are drummer, bassist, and guitarist respectively. Despite the seeming inaccessibility of reconciling all of this into a coherent package, the intellectual baggage doesn’t affect the music positively or negatively. The production is top notch and makes tremendous use of the ambient atmospherics.
“In This Unforgiving Heat” opens the album shockingly with an instrumental dredged from Middle Eastern sands. The swirling Arabesques of the music are matched by spiraling, wailing vocals infused with tremendous spirituality. It’s one of the album’s most musical numbers and does a fantastic job of incorporating musical and ambient elements without ever favoring one too much over the other. In particular, the Chimera’s bass playing is a memorable highlight. The album’s second track is, arguably, an even more musical moment. “Dodecahedron” has superb interplay between bass and drums, but the Gryphon’s guitar work adds an extra layer of musicality. The album begins a slow drift into increased experimentation on its later tracks.
“Tetrahedron” is one of the album’s best tracks for balancing the music’s ambient and rock concerns. It does so by practically dividing the track into two distinct movements, but the shift is so gradual that it never seems forced or strained. The vocal approach can be a little wearisome at times thanks to its lack of variation, but it has strange genre-crossing moments that wouldn’t be out of place on a doom metal album. “Transition from a Cube to the Octahedron” is the debut’s longest track and the added space affords Menimals a chance to conduct wild sonic explorations that earlier songs resist some. It’s a grim outing full of otherworldly vocals and disjointed instrumental passages, but wildly theatrical. The final song on the debut is “Bird on the Wire in a Hinge” and Menimals returns to some of the album’s earlier principles with this outing. There’s far more musicality present than the earlier tracks, but the darkness never quite leaves.
It’s far from an ideal party record or some confection to drive with the top down on a sunny day. The Menimals have unleashed a debut effort more appropriate for psychedelic drug sessions or three a.m. benders when you are poised to finish your second bottle. This is dense, difficult music that rejects convention, but it does so with such brash defiance that it’s difficult to not admire the gesture.
8 out of 10 stars.