Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Marco Mahler - Laptop Campfire Speed

Were every musician to have a “schtick” of some sort, that belonging to Marco Mahler would be the ability to create perfectly symmetrical shapes with sound; his songs drive subtly with a forward movement, but using enough of a constant push that they can play soundtrack, in mind, to the construction of a linear path, and the building of squares. This description seems abstract, but it's not so silly when considering that most music brings to mind a particular memory or idea – that the vision to pop up would be an abstract image and not a face or landscape, then, is how to best explain his music, which is never overpowered by any of its few elements, or as dreary as it ought to be given the pieces that comprise it.

“Beautiful Monsters” finds you stuck in a rhythm, tapping along, perhaps to those taps already programmed, perhaps to the cyclical movement of Mahler's acoustic guitar, and when “Cell Phone Antenna Trophy” begins, you wind up being carried into the same gentle rhythm, so easily sucked into a trance by these few sounds, not even distracted by the musician's Bill Callahan narration, which is hardly sung at all. And in fact, this pattern continues through the album's conclusion, never pausing, with the exception of “James Alley Blues,” a cover originally by Richard Rabbit Brown, which is perhaps the weakest track here if only because Mahler's low range is stretched a touch. But the song stands out as a rainy day blues number that lets Mahler's guitar ability shine, and is an unexpected break, on this record, from what is now apparent as his signature style.

Laptop Campfire Speed is a welcome return for Mahler, whose debut was one of my favorites of 2007, whose records are like Multi-Panel's “Night Stranded Drummers” on constant repeat, and whose next release will hopefully require something less than a three-year timetable.

Marco Mahler - Soft as a Train
Marco Mahler - Cell Phone Antenna Trophy
Purchase Laptop Campfire Speed (released today!)

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