Mazes – Ores & Minerals (album) (FatCat Records)

Mazes_Ores_&_Minerals

Every now and then you find a band who are just doing their own thing with their own set of influences, and devoid of current trends. Mazes are one of those bands. ‘Ores & Minerals’, the band’s first long-player since 2011’s ‘A Thousand Heys’, is a sprawling, eccentric, and most intriguing listen, and one that needs to be heard in its entirety.

First some history. The quartet met in Manchester in 2009, however guitarist Jarian Tabata is actually from the U.S. while drummer Neil Robinson hails from New Zealand. Guitarist Conan Roberts is from the U.K. and is the head of independent label Italian Beach Babes. Similarly, vocalist/guitarist Jack Cooper, also from the U.K., is head of indie label Suffering Jukebox Records.

Together the quartet create a unique blend of lo-fi indie and pyschadelic-rock. You will find a strong Midwestern influence, as well as The Velvet Underground (think “I’m Waiting For The Man“), and elements of krautrock (think ‘Faust IV‘ or Neu!) all mixed together to create their distinctive sound. A relevant comparison would be Canadian quartet, Women.

The album opens with”Bodies“, which was released as a cassette single back in October last year (read our review). No intro, no opening riff – the song’s insanely catchy vocal hook is introduced from the get-go. There are no shifts in key or pace, nor are there any leaps in dynamic; instead the song is based on repetition where melodic guitar lines intertwine and 70’s style organs dance together with funky bass lines creating a psychedelic vibe. Vocals stop at 2:05 and for the next 4 minutes 45 seconds the band lock into a motorik section based on a variation of the main riff.

“Dan Higgs Particle” follows and introduces rocking southern-fried blues riffing to the band’s unique lo-fi sonic template.

The title is a thrilling journeying track riddled with pop hooks summoning The Velvet Underground and combining it with Neu! like guitar textures. Meanwhile, the brilliant “Skulking” and “Delancey Essex” show hints of The Strokes.

As a whole, ‘Ores & Minerals’ is one of the most original and rhythmic guitar albums in recent memory with its playing at once tight and loose and where intertwining melodic guitar lines often act as the song’s primary hooks.

“Bite” and the psychedelic “Jaki” are both brilliant and display the band’s pop sensibilities. But it’s “Sucker Punched”, with its air of cool, that is the most hooky and rocking song on the record.

A unique, distinctive, and thoroughly enjoyable record, ”Ores & Minerals’ will be released on 18 February, 2013 and is available to pre-order through FatCat Records.

Watch the video for “Skulking” below:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/57948836″>MAZES- SKULKING</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/iamconan”>Conan Roberts</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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