Mamiffer – Mare Decendrii

Hydrahead Records

Slightly worryingly it’s been so long since I last posted here that my little netbook forgot all my login details, and then the backup copy I keep inside my brain also seemed to have been checked out and never returned.

But I saw we have regular updates and whatnot these days, and I have a metaphorical ‘pile’ of albums which have come out over the last few months which have all caused me to say ‘hey I should review that for DP’ and so today I thought, shucks, I should do that. So here I am again. Demon Pigeon needs my renegade approach to punctuation and self serving style to balance out all the being mean to girls we do these days.

Anyway, Mamiffer. I got this about a month ago and unlike most of the promo links I get I clicked on it, primarily because I saw from their press release that they have one Mr Aaron Turner from ISIS in them, and since I am an old man who fears things that are new, I downloaded it. I have been struggling to work out how to review it ever since. The problem I have with this album though, is not that it sounds nothing like ISIS (which it doesn’t) nor indeed that it is bad in any way (which it most certainly is not) but that it is essentially impossible to review.

Everything is reviewable, of course. Take a bunch of words, sling them together, make a point, job done. But I like to listen to an album a few times, come to a conclusion about it, then listen to it as I am writing a review. I am old-fucking-school me. The problem is not in summing up how I feel about this album, my problem lies in the fact that by listening to it, as I am right now, I am fighting the urge to crawl under a duvet in a darkened room, and smother myself with a pillow.

Mare Decendrii is a collaboration between Turner and avant garde pianist Faith Coloccia and a bunch of other people, but none of that really matters. What it is is five tracks of bewildering instrumental journeys that last sometimes up to 18 minutes, which range from sparse piano interludes that would sit nicely in the soundtrack to an Alejandro González Iñárritu film to dense Native American themes, to sprawling post rock landscapes and yes I am well aware that I am coming of like some wanky Pitchfork writer but I can’t help it, it’s all just so crushingly epic in scale.

It’s not perfect. Over its running time (which could be anything really, I’ve had it on repeat all day and have somewhat lost any grip on the concept of time as a result, but it’s bloody long) there are bits and pieces which threaten to disappear entirely up their own collective sphincters, but they never last for long and are usually followed by something so dazzlingly depressing and gargantuan in scope that you end up forgetting its faults as you slide mercilessly into a pool of your own ennui.

There are moments on this album, like the opening five minutes of second track We Speak In The Dark for instance, where the atmosphere is so utterly abrasive and cold that you half expect to hear Nic Cage screaming about bees over the top of it, or to find that it was the last thing played by a Tory MP as he aspyxi-wanked himself into an early grave.

There are bits that are rather uplifting, there are bits that could haunt you for days, there are bits where it feels as though you might sneeze your frontal lobe out, and there are bits where you think, hey, that’s pretty. Easy listening it isn’t but it is an experimental journey that still remembers you need to have some hooks, and it is an epic musical journey that actually manages to be emotionally engaging, something the new Radiohead album forgot to be.

Unless you only came to this site because Dan reviewed Emmure and you like to wear wifebeaters and have a haircut to cut glass with, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet there’s something in this album for you. If only all the rest of my to-review pile were this interesting.

9/10

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