Mamaleek - Diner Coffee Music Album Reviews

Mamaleek - Diner Coffee Music Album Reviews
On an eerie new record, the anonymous collective strays from its metal roots and takes influence from jazz, telling stories of life on America’s class margins.

Diner Coffee, the seventh record by Mamaleek, opens with a real laugh riot: a cacophony of recorded voices erupting, stumbling over one another, overripe with pleasure. When a horde of guitars and drums finally thunders a response to the cascading, borderline uncomfortable guffawing, it’s swiftly laughed back down. For longtime fans of the elusive metal project, two things should be immediately clear: The laughter will always win, and traditional notions of heaviness are often the butt of the joke.

Since debuting in 2008 with their self-titled record, the two anonymous brothers in Mamaleek have reveled in showing how extreme metal’s theatricality and full-throttle dynamics can make its darkness less menacing—even comical. This, to Mamaleek, is both an uproariously good joke, and a deadly serious idea: The guy in corpse paint singing about entrails is no match for, say, an earnest conversation about the state of public housing, which Mamaleek criticized on 2020's Come and See. On that album, they melted jazz instrumentation and blues textures down into music as heavy and fluid as molten iron, using sudden hushes and surprisingly melodic—even funky—basslines to create a sound that felt alive, vicious, and dripping with nausea.

Diner Coffee is both a stranger and more accessible record, the work of a group—newly expanded to a quintet, still anonymous—nearly abandoning their metal roots. But even when they’re at their most placid, an acrid fragrance clings to these songs, deepening the band’s brutal, nuanced stories of life on America’s class margins and proving they’ve still got a bit of necromancy in them. Metal artists have found inspiration in spiritual jazz for years, picking up on the discordant cosmic quests of the Sun Ra Arkestra and the long-distance drones of Alice Coltrane. But on Diner Coffee, Mamaleek play it sleeker, closer to the ground, affecting the swing and tone of bebop even when they’re playing ferocious avant-rock.

A sense of internal conflict pulses through these songs, the profusion of relatively light moments covering the anger like a tarp thrown over a bull. In the verses of “Boiler Room,” Mamaleek churn up a tavern sleaze until it’s so rich you can practically see the flocking on the Bud Light mirror behind the bar. In a yawp that’s part death-metal growl and part Tom Waits pastiche, the vocalist slurps out a list of regrets—all the other jobs he could’ve done if he hadn’t gotten stuck in the boiler room—then marshalls the band as the mood turns violent, saxophones screaming in support. If the lounge-lizard setting feels ironic, it’s only because that’s how the character is presenting himself, the not-so-laid-back guy casually chomping the ice from the bottom of his rocks glass; even the dots of electric piano that twinkle around the edges of the noise are a sign that the prettiest presentation often conceals something awful.

In a recent interview, the band collectively stated that they find diners “comforting and haunting at the same time,” and on much of Diner Coffee, they pulse with the spectral, erotic energy of the Bad Seeds, delighting in conjuring up uncomfortable environments where horror finds peace. There’s a Badalamenti sway to the title track (not to mention a guitar solo that could’ve been on Steely Dan’s Aja), and, sure, that rhythm combined with a lyric about a lonely guy ruminating on the beauty of a cheap cup of coffee does feel a touch on the nose for a band this invested in blue-collar grime. But there’s a righteous fury to Diner Coffee that’s largely missing from David Lynch’s vision of the Pacific Northwest, even as it shares Twin Peaks’ dreamy form of logic.

Mamaleek’s sense of empathy is particularly clear in “Wharf Rats in the Moonlight.” It’s the album’s best song, a patient march through the mental dissolution of a female war veteran whose worldview unravels after hearing Afghani women sing for their own joyful liberation. The song sputters with tension, as trilling woodwinds suggest the promise of light flitting around the edges of confusion. A sampled pinprick of sound, peaceful in tone and breathy like a bow that's just touched the violin's highest string, is repeated just off beat enough to startle. “Now she was the one trapped and unable to express herself,” the singer screams, and the song goes haywire with glitching feedback, harsh static, and what sounds like an overdriven TV. In its textural complexity and expressive power, it’s the closest Mamaleek gets to free jazz.

Like the hollowed-out electronic music of Burial, which critic Mark Fisher described as having “less to do with a near future than with the tantalizing ache of a future just out of reach,” Diner Coffee creates an atmosphere of gloom, hemmed in by molten edges and riddled with reverberant crackles. Moans drift through the distance, calling to mind old barroom songs; guitars sway like a boat knocking against a dock. These aren't simply moments of extramusical flourish, or attempts to elevate these songs even further above and beyond genre cliches. They’re the clearest articulation yet of Mamaleek’s ongoing resistance to the status quo.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Mamaleek - Diner Coffee Music Album Reviews Mamaleek - Diner Coffee Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 07, 2022 Rating: 5


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