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Review: !mindparade - Dead Mystics
Posted December 22, 2015 by Brett Alderman

Listen while you read!

Trust me, listening to Dead Mystics by !mindparade is definitely something you want to do with a decent pair of ear goggles. With such a dense, lush soundscape, there’s so much ambient nectar for the brain to process it really should be consumed as closely to the ol’ grey matter as possible. Not to say this doesn’t sound amazing through a pair of 2x15” cabs with 18” subs, just that it’s worth absorbing first with closed-back headphones. Listen to the album this way, and you can tweet me your thanks later.

From the opening riff of "See You," I spent the first listen of this song trying to figure out what influence was predominant in each track. Maybe it’s just me, but on listening to this collection of songs, it seems that Alex and the friends that make up !mindparade have enviable music collections.

"See You" opens with a chunky, heavy riff that harkens back to my teenage years listening to deep cuts of “Siamese Dream.” Maybe that’s because coming of age in the 90’s it’s difficult to look at anything else without that lens. But then again, those bands I grew up with had influences from 20 years prior to that era, too, so perhaps !mindparade is mining from the same fertile grounds. Or maybe I just want to geek out on Smashing Pumpkins, Helmet and Soundgarden and this is a convenient excuse to do so.

Moving on, "New Beginning," with its vocals steeped in reverb and effected guitar tone made me take note of its impeccable production. Imagine if Matthew Sweet took a more than healthy amount of Valium and went into the studio. What would you get? A lush, glassy vocal, New Wave-y synth ping-ponging across the track and precision drumming that creates a full sonic texture.

"What It's For" continues the rich vocal aesthetic over sweeping layers of tone. The guitar parts seem to be the most diverse, with melodic picking contrasting chunky palm muting rhythms (with some subtle shredding sliding in there). The rhythm section pushes the song like a freight train, really shining during the song’s outro.

When I first heard "The Coming Home" I immediately thought of Reservoir Dogs. One of the draws of early Tarantino films is how he harkens back to the 60’s & 70’s with his soundtracks. This song, with ethereal vocals and chorus soaked guitar certainly achieves that same goal. Which, I should add that I really want to see the guitarist’s pedal board. And, honestly, who doesn’t want to hear a bitchin’ flute part in the background?

Aptly listed as psychpop on their social media accounts, "Somehow Part I & II" with phase-y vocals and big loopy drums (was the snare recorded in a different room than the kick drum?) demonstrates why they use that descriptor. The longest track on the album, there are lots of interesting elements to discover. It had a dreamy quality that would equally be at home on a late 1990’s Moby or Beck track.

One of my personal favorites of Dead Mystics, "Mhmm" has a folky Simon & Garfunkel feel with its lyrics, but a contrasting Radiohead vibe. I’m guessing it’s the drums, which are a busy, syncopated contrast to the wispy, “Oh Shelia / joke’s on me” vocal lines. However you want to attribute the vibe of this track, it was definitely not expected during the first couple of modulated measures. Oh, and is that more flute? Hell yes it is.

Do you ever hear a song and immediately want to make a video in your head? "Chained Ghost" has such a cinematic quality that it’s exactly where my mind went. The song is haunting and very appropriately named, which personally made me think in dark and abstract visuals. Again, such magnificently layered sounds including echo-y chains, melodic guitar and beefy rhythm section over modulated synth parts. 

I must say that "Once Again" is my absolute favorite track. I love the way it opens, with a solo synth line that made me think of both Jethro Tull and Jon Brion. At times the song’s instrumentation is dizzying, yet the dry piano seems to anchor the other, more effects laden parts from floating in to the ether. I could listen to this song all day.

On hearing the album’s last song, "Show You," I have one question: Is Bloomington, Indiana drenched in reverb?  This track is in a word, HUGE. There’s so much knob-turning goodness, with such brilliantly mixed layers upon layers of ooey-gooey awesomeness. I can only imagine how crazy this song would look on an oscilloscope.  If a Jackson Pollock painting could sing, this would be it’s sound. Plus, Carl Sagan speaks from the beyond.

Dead Mystics is worth listening to, and then starting over and listening to again. I doubt that I could digest all the elements buried in this masterfully produced album on one or two attempts, and after far more than that, I still keep hearing new and cool things that make me smile. Strap on some ear goggles and you will, too. 

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