Mist :: House (Editions Mego)

For fans of Emeralds and their ilk, House will surely prove an engaging, rewarding listen, earning a place in many record collections.

Mist 'House'

[Listen | Purchase] Live albums are rarely essential or important to a band’s legacy. Sure, there’s Live At Leeds and the myriad Greatful Dead concert recordings, but all the average live album adds is some banter and maybe interesting re-interpretations of the band’s own songs – stuff that wouldn’t be as interesting if it weren’t for the original studio material. Fans want more, and a live album gives them just that. But what the band is delivering with a live album is more of a particular sound they achieved on a recent album, not a leap forward in creativity.

House, while not exactly a live album, achieves something similar. Its content, however interesting, is not revolutionary. For fans of Emeralds and their ilk, House will surely prove an engaging, rewarding listen, earning a place in many record collections. But for those who don’t understand the recent excitement about people reappropriating Ash Ra Tempel’s most interesting moments, House isn’t the album that will change their minds.

Let me explain: Mist is Jon Elliott and Sam Goldberg, two musicians at the vanguard of contemporary synth music. Jon Elliott is Emeralds’ primary synthesizer player, and is behind other recent projects such as Colored Mushroom and the Medicine Rocks and Imaginary Softwoods. Sam Goldberg is better known as Radio People, whose eponymous debut found a home on Digitalis and explored the same pulsing electronic landscapes Elliott does.

Given both their backgrounds and the recent popularity of their respective kinds of music, why would they offer anything different than what people expect? You can’t really blame them. “Twin Lanes” starts out with an uptempo, bouncy riff and buzzy drones, gradually congealing into a shifting mess in the same way “Candy Shoppe” started off “Does It Look Like I’m Here?”  Unfortunately, that description could fit almost all of the other five compositions on House – not exactly interchangeable, but from the same mold. The pulsing electronics are the tracks the train of soaring atmospherics ride on, and Elliott’s trademark high-register swooshes and fields of bubbling texture benefit from the sense of movement the rhythm suggests.

House is a textural record more than anything, and even though this is the case with most ambient records it’s especially true here. If Emeralds isn’t your thing, you’re not going to find anything new here. For the fans, of course, this album is a nice adjunct to Elliott’s previous work, and the vinyl pressing is a nice break from the tedium of batches upon batches of cassettes released by similar artists every week. But the vinyl also raises a question – why House? In the context of other Mist and Emeralds albums, House is no more vital or revelatory than anything else, and it could easily have been consigned to a place among the ceaseless flood of cassettes coming from Pizza Wagon or Arbor. Which means mystified listeners will remain mystified and devoted fans will jump at the opportunity to hear more; just like a live album.

House is out now on Editions Mego. [Listen | Purchase]

[audio:http://igloomag.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Mist_Twin_Lanes.mp3|titles=Mist “Twin Lanes”]
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