Available on: Spectrum Spools LP
The opening notes to House are vibrant arpeggiated melodies, rich and full bodied – a proclamation that Mist are moving into high fidelity airspace. Synthetic strings bulk out the sound to ecstasy before a pedestrian and more complex melody is introduced. Unlike the previous two, this cannot be played out to infinity: the disjointed pattern eventually upsets the feeling of endlessness, and is replaced by a second, similarly uneasy motif or phase (to adopt a Reich-ian position). Rinse and repeat: as lush as it is worked, Mist are still the younger, cruder brother of member John Elliott’s other project Emeralds. Their slick use of synths suggests a stealthier sound, one of mesmeric complexity, but the result is anything but. Arguably this is Mist’s signature – their EP, Glowing Net, used this reduced approach and projected it against raw sounds designed to interrupt that sense of space-age silkiness.
‘Dead Occasion / Ovary Stunts’, along with its inspired title, is typically crude. The track opens with a insect-like drone; it’s a nasty locust of a sound which wriggles and hums before dropping a hard synth riff – from the height of a Biblical plague to the street level of Duke Nukem or Metal Slug. It’s a radical transition to say the least, but the riff is a great 8-bit ear basher – even if it is eventually watered down with a grainy sweep. Regardless, it highlights the boyishness in Mist; that for all the subtle gradients of sonic manipulation, for all the sophisticated concoctions there’s something brutally puerile at work. That their pleasures aren’t in the “haute” realms their music is often placed but in head-banging monsters of rock freakiness.
The sophisticated juxtaposition and amalgamation of tracks works to maximum effect on the record’s bookends. ‘Twin Lanes’ is an epiphany riddled pop monster; the realisation that everything is, or at least can be, aligned. On closing track, ‘P.M.’ we see the group at their most disturbed. As the record begins to sound out, both arpeggiated and sustained notes weave between each other, polyrhymically shapeshifting. As the disparate motifs are drawn together, compiled and blasted out in quick succession we hear amalgamated aesthetics as much as riff wars, but between these bookends the record maintains euphoric drones. Mist take off, beyond the stripped down breathability of the sound: as ‘I Can Still Hear Your Voice’ finds its rhythm, the rapture is sustained with the notes themselves capturing an ebullient sheen. This play off between the fast, bubbling loops and the extended, reverb heavy counter melodies acts as a central feature of House.
‘Daydream’, partially thanks to the title, provides further indication that the outlook of Mist is kind fantasy – a landscape of endless bliss. There’s a precious beauty about this album, and as much as there may be a gruesome skeleton under all these idealised waves of distortion, it’s buried deep beneath the sonic gems on show. Ultimately, Mist are an easy band, and House an easy record. For all the layers, the tape cuts chopped and spliced, for all the innovation and the investment, this record has a fluent quality, and between the contrasting sounds, the melodious dances and the slow-moving distortions, there’s is an irreverent yet crafted formulae brought to technicolor thanks to improved mastering and industrious musicianship.