Review: Mystical Weapons – Mystical Weapons
Published on January 25th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
It’s not Sean Lennon’s fault that some people don’t take him seriously as a musician; that’ll be his dad’s fault for being, as you may have heard, a cast iron legend. Sever the link, though, and Sean solo records like Into the Sun and Friendly Fireare delightful collections of gentle psych-pop characterised by instantly winning chord progressions and agreeably languid vocals. As it happens, it could be straight out of the Elephant 6 collective, which for those uncertain is an entirely good thing.
Enter Deerhoof dynamo Greg Saunier, et voila: Mystical Weapons by Mystical Weapons, an evidently improvisatory set of freeform instrumentals. The pair’s experience of playing together with Plastic Ono Band informs the wild fluctuations between crashing madness and jazzy calm that lie within, with “Impossible Shapes” providing an exemplary early indicator by lulling you in with Miles Davis-y piano then exploding into Deerhoofy circus-punk…and then into (dare we say it) late-Beatles-y stoner rock.
“Impossible Shapes” just so happens to be what Saunier’s tumultuous drumming and all-round virtuoso musicianship manage to conjure on a regular basis, so you’d suspect he was the driving force behind this. However, Lennon has shown jazz influences before on tracks like “Photosynthesis” and is conceivably the architect of much of the delightfully daft keyboard on show on “Mechanical Mammoth”, so they’re a strong pairing.
“Mechanical Mammoth” does indeed manage to sound like a mechanical mammoth by dint of a big, stomping drum beat and a metallic creaking noise not a million miles away from that contained within “Bad Kids to the Front” from Deerhoof’s typically excellent Breakup Song LP of last year. This is followed by the clacking marimba wilderness of “Silk Screen Eyes”, which in turn segues straight into the sparse, rolling psych-funk of “Whispers the Blue Tongue”. There’s a wibbly, whirring Ali Baba sound, dissonantly glowing electric piano, ace fuzz-wah guitar and a strutting bass line, and somehow it all makes at least a modicum of sense together.
Overall there are bits of minimalist weirdness here, jazzy piano solo there, off-time fuzzy stomping scattered about for good measure, while exotic interlude “Hostile Takeover” could almost have come from an old Bond film. “Colony Collapse Disorder” is an unfortunate title for such a pleasingly spiky jam, “Consortium Musicum” has a whistling part reminiscent of, you know, that song from that Goldfrapp album, Felt Mountain, the one that played on Monkey Dust whenever the lying husband character walked past the TVs in the shop window all with Tony Blair on them repeating the word “education”…
…yeah, “Lovely Head”. Cheers, Wikipedia…
…but “Gross Domestic Happiness” arguably steals the show with its clattering pots and pants, crashing timpani thunder and horror movie string tension, taking in Oompah and bleepy thrash in its ultimately victorious six-minute quest for gloriously mad stompy cacophony. Mystical Weapons is perhaps more a diverting document of two very talented musicians jamming than it is an album you could rank alongside either’s best work, but this shouldn’t count against it when it comes to the quailing.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Mystical Weapons is out now. For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/MysticalWeapons