28 May 2016
MPG&MAN - MPG&MAN
Sometimes life has a way of throwing strange shapes and sending you in a different direction, at least it does for me and this blog. Last week I reviews the Spring Sampler from Sweet Sounds Records (cleverly linked here) and it seems to have been a popular one, a few niggles as expected, but overall a very positive reaction. One of the most welcome was for a song which I could not mark as it is bat crap crazy to be polite, this was the song by MPG&MAN and the song “FuckILogicMPG”. In an album of strange and exotic releases, that was the most outlandish of the lot and it was one I could not mark – it was out of the context of its creator’s work be the very nature of the sampler and it felt bizarre. Now as a man who can sometimes thrive on the bizarre side of music, it is something that I have always done. So after the review went up, I was contacted by MPG&MAN and asked if I would consider reviewing their latest album – a mixtape called ‘MPG&MAN’. Well, who am I to say no this request? Coming from TN town and living with his many friends, MPG&MAN is creating a new stream of music and it is constantly evolving. Now, I know of another artist who used to create music with this sort of mentality – Frank Zappa. It is not that I am putting a challenge at the feet of MPG, but I am curious to see how his work and “FuckILogicMPG” correlate together….
The first song on this album is the aforementioned “FuckILogicMPG”, on my last review I said the following - This song sounds like you are going through an old style radio and you are picking up different stations, each one of them playing a different song and contributing to a sprawling wall of sound that never settles on one style or contains a hook that likes the various rambling dreamscape that is coming out of the speakers. I stand by this statement, it is like going through an old school radio and hitting a million different stations at once. I’ve been thinking about this one during the week and it reminds me more and more of an avant-garde noise group called Nurse with Wounds, but with a huge dose of uppers added to the noise demeanour. It is not something that you can easily listen to, but it is interesting to say the least. Next is “GogoManUnderground” which goes in a different direction, sounding like a mixture of They Might Be Giants and Atom & His Package. It is a refreshing little tune that wraps itself around your mental facilities and it has a strange set of lyrics that float in the air and sound like a stream of thought. It is not what I expected to follow “FuckILogicMPG”, but to be honest I had no idea what to expect and it is nice to be surprised. “Gyp<3MPG” is another change in direction, with a droning song that is heavy of the synth and abstract percussion; I like the noise that sounds like a cricket chirping in the background and the dream like nature of this number, it is another side to this band and three tracks in they are still to have one song that matches the other - they are being consistently inconsistent, what is there not to like so far????
“HAYES'2minBOOTYbustManUnderground” begins with a church organ sound, but it is soon joined by a holiday drum machine sound that gives this song a jolly little feeling. The song about stuff being in your head and taking your meds, it comes across as mixture between the Eels, a samba band and an infomercial/exercise video that actually could have been extended a little bit long. The idea behind the song is an interesting on that made me laugh out loud when I first heard it; not because I was laughing at the song, but because it is such a simple idea and not many people will understand how good the song actually sounds. “NOGOYOwoeMPG” takes us back to the bizzaro sound of MPG, but at a slowdown selection rate, it goes for the avant-garde noise at the beginning, a little bit of smooth rock and then back to the strange, wonderful and bizarre. A few times when I just had this on in the background, I was sure it had changed songs. Anyway, it is another piece of art that will mystify some, be adored by others and it is a brilliantly bizarre number. “RevManUnderground” is quite possibly my favourite song of the album, it is the song that mixes psychedelic, protest and rock. It reminds me of Mr Zappa once again and the tone of the song “Trouble Every Day” from the Mothers of Invention album ‘Freak Out’, it is not something you will find on the radio but it deserves to be heard as it once again shows that there is more to this act that just going nuts. It has a distorted ending, it has a drum beat that sounds like boots marching on the souls of the minions underneath, it is crazy – it is also part rock beast and it works so well!
Right on cue, “MPGexperts@hashtagood” moves this album in another different direction! It is back a bizarre keyboard number, sounding like a swarm of bees swirling around the speakers and a train of thought that has been give voice to be heard by anyone. We are back to They Might Be Giants at their height of lunacy and outside the box thinking. There is something addictive about this number, but I can see why it might drive some people to distraction as well. It is so crazy; it might just be the craziest song on this release. “BurningManUnderground” starts off droning and it keeps that way, it is a song that deals with the dark side of a person’s personality and it keeps a measured pace as it marches onwards towards a macabre and dark ending. I like that fact that it (once again) changes the mood of this album in another off the wall direction and that you could not have guessed that it would have been before it starts. The penultimate song on this album is “MPG” which is the first of the tracks that I actually managed to predict rightly, it is another noise song that sounds like the radio is going off the rails towards a fading end and aiming to take over the world. I actually found myself being beaten into submission by the relentless nature of this song and the constant, aggressive and manic noises that were being subjected to me. You are not going to find a more fitting example of this band in full flight than this song, not so much out the box as over the line, the line is now beyond the horizon and they are still going to parts unknown. In other words, this is absolutely bonkers – well done MPG&MAN, well done. But this is not the end of this album! No, that honour falls to “ManUnderground” and it starts with a string section and female harmonies; after the barrage of noise and mania that has proceeded it, this is a little freaky at first as you have to adjust to normality once again. It is a luscious OTT pop song, it has such an innocent feeling to it that it could the butterfly that caused all the storm in the first place, flapping its wings to unleash the other nine sections of chaos. You spend the first listen awaiting the drop back into the confusing world of MPG, but this does not happen and then it hits you – like a dream that you cannot wake up from, you are still in the bizarre world of MPG and there might not be any escape. It is a smooth song, a true ending track and an experience in keeping the audience guessing.
I can safely say that this album is going to be a one of a kind release, I do not think the MPG will create a record like this one as it seems like he will keep following his own path. I will be honest, I was expecting a few things and I got a lot more. There is a lot of influences here and probably some bands that MPG&MAN did not know about. I can hear Zappa, I can hear Atom & His Package, I can hear noise records and it is mixed into a confusing, brilliant, insane ball of music that makes the world an interesting place. Now I know that MPG were a little chuffed with the last marking I gave them, but they did not break the system. The system was already in place after a review of Mr Zappa and his album ‘Civilization: Phaze 3’ (check it out, that is a fucked up released), so what do I give this album? Well, I know that it is a release that will polarise opinion and you will not meet a casual fan of MPG&MAN. It has moments that make no sense and moments that could be expanded upon, it also has some gems on here and it is well worth checking out. I am also going to give it the cat symbol again, you will have to make up your own mind and I really do hope to hear from these guys again. Every now and then you need a little lunacy in your life, MPG&MAN delivers it here and they have more of it by the shed load.
Crazy Cat Symbol – This album cannot be marked, so here is a box of kittens
Top track - RevManUnderground
You can get a copy of MPG&MAN on the MPGExpert Bandcamp page here
At the time of writing, this release is only available on Bandcamp, please check them out!!!
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