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amna-shaddad
11th November 2014

Album: Mysteries – New Age Music Is Here

Mysteries impress with a defined and confident debut album
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Released 28th October

Felte Records

6.5/10

New Age Music is Here is a grand title for an album. The first track borders on pretentious avant-garde and is seriously intriguing. When I first heard it, I thought it sounded like something for Dungeons and Dragons fans. There’s the haunting whispering that recalls Slint over sort-of clashing. But then, the choir comes in—who sound like Coldplay trying to make New Age music. But it gets much better after that. In fact, after listening to the entire album I came back to the first track with much less dread; I was no longer expecting the musical equivalent of walking through a modern art gallery, bored and frustrated. In the second track, so-called ‘Knight Takes Rock’, the vocalist sings about his heart giving up conquests (“can never call this love”) and it is in fact very Depeche Mode, a darker Hot Chip-esque style with some Enya or Annie Lennox-style backing female vocals, with a Gregorian choir thrown in for good measure. I really like it—his voice sounds like Antony Heygart’s.

With every track, the wonderment or critical expectation of New Age-ness drops to simply enjoying these tracks that sound like a mature, stripped to the bare essentials Wild Beasts. The tracks are very similar to each other, but varying from the more dance-y tracks to broody ones. The seventh track ‘Ev’rything’ really sounded to me as if the more ‘solid’ sounding John Grant was the vocalist, and Grant’s last album was an exploration of 80s revival that sounded similar, and from which I absolutely love a few tracks. The last tracks are a little darker. It’s a really good album, especially for a first album; it’s certainly very defined and confident.

About it being supposedly New Age: if I haven’t already made it clear, this isn’t New Age music. But maybe we’re all missing the point, and by new age they don’t necessarily mean boundary-shattering music, but celebrity-free music production. Even their Los Angeles record label don’t know who they are, and these are well polished records. They may have made music before elsewhere, but if they have to would be hard to find, so this record is judged only on its own merit. So too would the rest of their albums, if they were to continue in this impressive manner.


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