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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mark’s Pick of the Week: Welcome to the planet, dear by mnttab

Where does performance art end and music begins or what part does entertainment play in making a song good, or if something is just noisy and different does that mean it’s good?  These are all questions I thought I’d introduce this article with.  Then I noticed I was bobbing up and down to the opening track, and realized those questions are all well and good, but if music is fun then who really cares?
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the artist known as mnttab.  I posted a quick look at his last EP within half an hour of receiving the link to his bandcamp, and followed it up with an interview for the site.   However, for his first full release from Kansas based "You are already dead!" Records I needed to take a bit more time to swallow this release to see what I could make of it.  This album is certainly noisy, artsy and different, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth writing about.  You’re on the Internet.  In 10 seconds you could find something else new or noisy or whatever, so what makes this stand out to me?
I think the most important thing that draws me to this guy is he really has a signature.  With some bands you can play two of their songs and not be able to tell it’s the same artist.  At first this might seem like a good thing since the artist is obviously evolving and changing.  However, no one can change to the point that you still can’t find a bit of them throughout their entire catalogue.  To me no signature means no personality.  mnttab has a signature in setting of his sound.  He starts with a really blank canvas and fills it up quickly by hurling sounds at the silence like someone might hurl paint at a wall.
Also his production has a very familiar vain to it.  The vocals sound like he is yelling over the din of his own music like he is announcing something over the PA system at a crowded party.  Sometimes you only catch a snippet of what is said or nothing at all, but either way it’s delivery tells you all you need to know.
The last release mainsHum certainly has a similar sound to it, but if his last release was a sprint this is more of a marathon.  Sure a few of the tracks like “Watching Your Lips Move” explode right out of the speakers with all the weird sounds you’d expect from a noise disco album.  However, many more of the tracks seem like the same animal, but chained to a post.  It’s just as ferocious and primal, but instead of getting right into your face it runs to the end of its tether and snarls. 
This works pretty well for his style because he’s giving the songs time to really cook through.  If you let yourself really listen to some of the tracks and feel a couple of the layers wash over you can get a lot.  You can pull apart the pieces and hear which ones fill the whole song, which ones weave in and out, and which just bum rush for a few seconds and are gone.  The whole thing feels less like an album and more like a show.  At a live show people move, the atmosphere can change, but there are still constants that give the whole crazy thing some semblance of a direction.
If you’ve got a bit of time I’d defiantly recommend checking out his bandcamp and trying a few of these tracks.  It’s certainly not an album that opens itself to you right away.  You have to put a bit of effort to really see all that’s there, but if my opinion is worth squat it’s time well spent.  

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