Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Alchemical Mixture - Mammoth Salmon (album reviews)


Cover Artwork by Ryan Redman at Ratart.
Highlights include: "Hypnotic Transference" and "Self Induced"
From: Portland, Orgeon.  Rating: 4/5

Portland, Oregon is a treasure trove of great bands with Red Fang, Snail, Crag Dweller and Bison Bison being among the best.  So when a new band shambles onto the scene expectations are sometimes skewed.  Either too high or too low.  Portland is a cool place.  Maybe the nicest American city I've been to.  It all feels very clean and new and there's definitely a creative electricity in the air.  To the town's credit, it has replaced New York as the mecca for comics artists and writers.  It's a place where things are happening, a mix of young and old with what is quickly forging into a strong identity of vigor, humor ... and an underlying din of noisome clamor.

Mammoth Salmon step outside of their local paradigm to create a lumbering, earnest and threatening attack full of thunder with none of the tongue-in-cheek upside down frowns of their neighbors.  Their three track introductory EP was recently released as a "Name Your Price" digital download on bandcamp.

Opening track "Narcotic Delirium" is an instrumental which showcases the band's basic approach, an introduction that boils down their overall sound.  It's three and a half minutes are so packed with bottomed-out swagger it's amazing the duo can stay upright while playing it.  There's an impressive amount of noise here for just two dudes, creating a tremendous amount of volume, enough to make one realize that two men working together can accomplish plenty.  Of course, I've an inkling that some overdubbing has taken place, not that there's anything wrong with that.  Still, Paul Dudziak (guitar, vocal, bass duties) and Mitch Meidinger (drums) raise the dead with these three songs.

"Self Induced" introduces vocals into the mix.  They are of the chest beating variety, clean and muscular, forcefully shouted and sound as though recorded on a rain soaked battle field.  "Hypnotic Transference" is wah-blistered funk, every bit as head-noddingly hypnotic as the title suggests..  Now we have a fuller and more accurate picture of the Mammoth Salmon sound.  The very name of the band conjures accurate pictures of the sounds they produce.  Massive and monstrous, imposing slow riffs on an unsuspecting populace with wafts of fishy funk dripping with dumpster juice and maybe a little fresh blood.  It's not the most substantial release in terms of length and girth, at 13 minutes it's the soundtrack to a coffee break, but it should whet appetites for fans of downtuned, crushing, bottomed-out jams.


Highlights include: "Magnetic Fields of Radiant Light" and 
"Nothing Follows".  From: Portland, Orgeon.  Rating: 4/5

So what do these two fellas do for an encore?  Why, they simply release a brand new EP.  On the surface it all, quite literally, looks the same.  Same art, same number of songs, similar length, etc.  But this short record is more remarkable for the differences to its predecessor than it's similarities, which admittedly are only made more apparent by the surface similarities.

On "Nothing Follows", the opening statement of 'Internet EP 2' the heavy as lead balloons tone is dampened slightly, allowing the guitar to feel the breeze in a little bit lighter environment.  The aggression factor is also downplayed in measured doses.  The mirth factor seems to have increased proportionally as well with a more sing-songy approach to the vocal melodies.

In some ways 'EP 2' is a more experimental effort.  Even though it's difficult to say anything definitive about releases this short ('EP 2' is 16 minutes long compared to 'EP 1's 13 minutes length), the willingness to change some things up and toy around with texture and atmosphere becomes crystal clear as a motivating factor on closing track "Magnetic Fields of Radiant Light". Instead of simply sticking to a strict one guitar, one amp, one guitarist, one tone, one sound approach across these two EPs and six songs, Dudziak changes things up.  Perhaps it's that the bass isn't as prevalent here, it's hard to say.  "Magnetic Fields" is the spiritual cousin to "Hypnotic Transference" from the first EP, while "Green Lung"s cliffside chest-beating stance fits perfectly within the oeuvre.

I'm going to hazard a guess right now and say this duo's next, 'EP 3' should be coming on or around June 21.  It's probably just a coincidence, but their debut came on last year's winter solstice while this one came the day after the vernal equinox.  But if I were a betting man, I'd put a fiver down on the table that their next release will only see the band grow further and further into their heavy as a sack of nails in the face sound, dipping into ever more deepening pools of psychedelia along the way.  For now however, there's half an hour's worth of big, lumbering, foul-smelling fuzz with plenty of meat on its bones for you to dig into.  And it's  all available at a price that you get to name.


Genre: Stoner, Doom, Experimental

Reminds me of: March The Desert, Sleep, Zosimos

Release Date: December 21, 2012 (EP 1), March 21, 2013 (EP 2)

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