Review Summary: Terrifying Ambient music from a band that sounds like GYBE's take on the sounds of nature. Makes good background music.
Almost nothing about Mammals and Computers sounds like the music most are familiar with. There are no guitar solos to be found here, no catchy pop hooks, no pounding drum beat. Each one of the album’s 14 tracks blends together in a field of lush ambience. This is more the type of thing you would imagine ghosts up in some godforsaken forest of trees and blackness would sing, than what you would hear coming out of any sane teenager's speakers. Each track sounds like some hellish side effect of nature, a noise that only the wind could create, yet instead two men fathered it. There is nothing to catch your attention within the album, no blaring guitars or dancey bass. With the exception of the album’s sporadic vocals, which come out sounding more like the voice of god himself speaking to an unpopulated, post-apocalyptic world than that of a “lead singer”, the only other thing that is strikingly protruding from the album’s noises is the call of seagulls found on track 9, Harmonic Drift.
In all of these ways, Mammals and Computers is terrifying. It’s omniscient blaring of computer created, but oh-so-natural sounding, ambience makes even something as normal as the barking of my dog, an old German Shepard mix, seem horrifying. If the lights in my house were to switch off right in the middle of any one of these songs, I imagine that I could come close to defecating myself. The tracks, especially towards the end of the album, where things begin to come towards a demented climax, are surprisingly intense for music that lacks any noticeable form of structure. But maybe that’s why they are so intense. One of best things about Abstractology is their striking ability to conjure images in one’s mind. Pictures of oceans of haze, deserted futuristic cities and beaches that haven’t had visitors in a long time spring into your head throughout Mammals. The downward string of notes played in the middle of album opener All Memory are even capable of delivering a shiver down my spine. Compare listening to this album with the very moment in a certain situation where you realize something is definitely not right. Something unnatural is definitely going on.
Bells toll, noise swirls, the sounds of planes flying overhead can be identified from within the dense mass of sounds that is track 11, Memory Surface. Picture Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s take on a CD containing recordings of a forest at night and you will be picturing the only way I can think to describe this record. Voices can barely be heard, let alone understood. The track creates a picture of a field covered with mist in my mind. Memory Surface ends and Sequence and Disorder begins, the first sign of normal music is played, a dark arpeggio of piano notes. The album is near over, and I am glad. Not so much because the album was a bad experience, more because I want to turn on the most generic piece of music I can find, just to balance out the music going round in my thoughts. Mammals and Computers isn’t a bad record by any means, its only flaws come in its inaccessibility, its length and the similarity between each track. I find it hard to listen to more than two tracks without diverting my attention to another matter, such as writing this final paragraph. But, if background music is what you’re looking for, you’ve succeeded in finding the most terrifyingly overwhelming background music of them all. If you’re just looking for something to sit back on your couch and listen to, keep moving there isn’t anything for you to listen to here.