I have to admit, I’ve sat on this review a while. A good while, in fact. The review copy of “Ghettoblaster” dropped into my inbox about two months ago and I thought that I’d have plenty of time to listen, absorb and ruminate. Followed, of course, by a succinct summing up in a review.
In reality, life is often not that easy. It would seem that The Mercy Stone strive to approximate that rather well.
I could trot out the well used “this band is not known for trying to be accessible” line, and for certain, it wouldn’t be wrong. But I’m also not sure that it does them justice. This is carefully honed mayhem. Split succinctly into nine neat servings, each different in flavour and texture. Each with purpose. Some with distinct menace.
Once I had listened to the album the first time, it became rapidly apparent that I had absolutely nothing to compare it against. This did not help with timely delivery of reviews… The fact that this is a debut album by this 12-piece ensemble did not help at all. There’s no foundation for me to build a narrative on.
It’s not that there’s no structure to their music, it just doesn’t often fit within the confines of what we would term as normal, in terms of either time signature, or song structure. Especially song structure. The songs evolve and take different directions, staying within a broad theme, but unafraid to look outside and take a stroll round the grounds once in awhile.
The title track starts this journey with dense, multi-layered string section, almost immediately smothering you with rich, honeyed, sinister analogue emanations. Cut through with focused rhythm section, wailing to the sky in gentle anguish.
Following this is “Triptide.” It starts off following a relatively simple rhythm, accompanied by some relaxed, but fairly sinister guitar / saxophone interplay.
“First Light” continues to explore these strange and broken aural landscapes with stuttering drums and pulsing abstract guitar lines. Running violin lines providing the substructure for the abundant poly-rhythms and key-straddling twists and turns.
“Megalodon” takes on an immediately more crystalline tack. The instruments morphed, thinned into an altogether more bright and brittle sound. The track pulsing and flowing as if in tune with the gravitational waves of the planet it emanates from. While excursions from normality are definitely present here, the way has been smoothed over significantly; weird juxtapositions made to seem commonplace. Easing you into a different mindset and making you ready for the bare fragility of closing “Lazer.” The final, subtle, delicate taste of a feast well finished.
This is not an album for the faint of heart. This is not an album for those that do not want their preconceptions of how music should sound significantly challenged. In places, this is not a comfortable, easy or even pleasant listen.
That is exactly how it is intended.
The Mercy Stone clearly want to challenge us to listen, to accept and embrace their differences. This is their normality, their experience. This is a brief glimpse into their stories from a world that while essentially alien to us, is nevertheless full of intrigue.
For more info about The Mercy Stone visit http://themercystonemusic.com