Mamiffer – [Album]

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Lengthening shadows stretching towards the dark edge of a sunset. That feeling when your heart sinks into your stomach. Horrifying. Bleak. Miserable. Beautiful. It can be tough to describe an album that hardly has words of its' own. Mamiffer’s newest album, Mare Decendrii, paints a vast landscape that engulfs your mind, guiding your imagination along every step of the way.

The album starts out with a wailing guitar and dissonant piano, giving way to bass and little sprinkles of melody. The guitar work here is spot-on. Aaron Turner, formerly of ISIS, shows a strong command of his instrument, utilizing feedback masterfully and coming in heavy in all the right places. Faith Coloccia, of Everlovely Lightningheart, lays down the ground work with haunting piano lines that set the atmosphere. The first five and a half minutes of this track instill a completely hopeless feeling, and then from nowhere you get this little glimpse of hope; the guitar mournful yet dancing a waltz with the piano. Orchestrated strings come in, evoking a sense of a struggle to escape, and the whole thing ends with a long section of deep chants in some foreign language, leaving me feeling somewhat triumphant, as if to imply that maybe we didn’t escape the darkness completely but finally came to terms with it.

I would love to see this album put to film. It plays like the soundtrack to a horror movie. A very good, intelligent horror movie. It also reminds me of Clint Mansell’s work on Aronofsky’s The Fountain.

The 20-minute epic “We Speak In The Dark” begins horrifying, with screeching strings and the deepest piano notes lurching along underneath. Hope begins to shine through about eight minutes into the song with a light violin and piano melody which gives way to foreign chants and monotone female vocals creating a feeling of meditation. Contrasting themes of darkness and light are a huge part of this recording, as well as feelings of redemption and salvation.

“Blanket of Ash” makes for an ambient transition into “Eating Our Bodies,” the latter seemingly an experiment in toying with my emotions. This track builds and builds and builds, reaching higher and brighter with every measure. When it finally hits the plateau and you can see through the clouds, riding atop that joyful major chord, you’re thrown back down into the fog only to fight your way back into the light. “Eating Our Bodies” continuously rises and falls, repetitive and slowly evolving over the course of twelve and a half minutes.

Our finale to all of this, “Iron Water,” opens with what I assume is a bowed contrabass, deep and moving. The percussion lends a hand in making this track feel like the end of an epic battle; the piano driving us forever forward, never looking back and finally fading into ghostly echoed wails. It’s a truly haunting and powerful ending to a truly haunting and powerful album.

I haven’t been this blown away by an record since I first discovered Godspeed You! Black Emperor years ago. Mamiffer has created a fantastic voyage of despair and hope, nightmare-inducing passages and bittersweet melodies. The length of the tracks may be daunting to some, but it is well worth sitting down with this little gem and letting your imagination run wild.



Mare Decendrii
comes out on April 5, 2011 on Conspiracy Records/Sige. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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