Friday, 7 August 2015

Mazzy Star "Among My Swan" (1996)

 Its been an absolute pleasure to enjoy this record which instantly grabbed my attention, singer Hope Sandoval's sleepy, dream like vocals washed over the hazy distortion and entrancing acoustic guitars to create a sound that felt right at home, yet new to me. Mazzy Star are an American band whos music is composed by the core duo of Hope's vocals and guitarist David Roback. The band released three albums in the nineties before a hiatus that left 17 years between this record and their 2013 release "Seasons Of Your Day". Their sound and style is distinctively blurry between Alternative Rock and Dream Pop with a subtle touch of Country too. 

This record struck me with a vivid image of simple life, maybe on a farm or working the land but with a deep respect for life. The mood and tone balances both beauty and sorrow on a mortal hinge that could be felt in either direction as a sombre undercurrent drifts through Hope's soft, sleepy words. In the distance hazy distortions play out ambiguous riffs as radiant acoustic tones strum out colorful melodies that dance around Hope's voice. On the first tracks bells feature in a slightly discordant manor, their presence is spellbinding and the additional instruments that pop up throughout the album add new dimensions, the harmonica in particular conveying that simplistic, yet emotional depth the music has.

 Across the twelve tracks theirs a mix of tones, moods and intensities to be found. The percussion sometimes fully involved with a light kit, occasionally a tambourine keeping pace, something I haven't heard in some time. The group get psychedelic on "Umbilical", a chilling slow drone with a haunting organ building atmospheric intensity from the guitar and drums. The distant, hazy distortion guitar brings the most unique flavor to their sound, but on every track if its present or not they play out truly charming, engulfing songs that wash over with a touch of tranquility. Bewitched by Hope's voice and the humble emotion the instruments serenade I find myself hooked on this record and the peace it brings.

Favorite Songs: Disappear, Take Everything, Ive Been Let Down, Roseblood, Happy, Umbilical
Rating: 7/10