Review Summary: The different layers of Mister Lies
A lot of people take the genre dubstep with a grain of salt. One must know what they are getting into when diving into the repetitive, spectral and idiosyncratic nature of a typical dubstep album. Artists like Kode9, Burial and Distance opened our eyes to the grim and dark vibes of the genre and have been very consistent throughout their discographies. Two genres that I do not think many people take much appreciation in either are house and synth pop music. Some may disregard the genre for its apparent simplicity, but with its bouncy 4/4 beats and jazzy funk feel, it’s great on the dance floor and for the mind, artists like Four Tet and Maya Jane Coles really set the bar for house music in 2012, and also the synth pop sounds of Kona Triangle give some tracks on this album a very dancey and mystical feel. To finish off this naming and explaining of genres we are left with downtempo. A beautiful and wholesome genre for bands like The KLF and Ulrich Schnauss and even Lone. Put all of these styles together and what do you get? Mister Lies.
Mister Lies’ Mowgli
might not break any new boundaries of electronic music, but it is still a diverse, melodic and charismatic endeavor. The album starts off pretty humbly as we’re introduced to the first track on the album “Ashore,” which displays some glitchy guitar samples and slow thumping bass beats. The song is fairly straightforward, but little does one realize that it is actually reaching an amazingly refulgent climax. With its heavy downtempo synth sound, it is quite reminiscent of Lone. “Dionysian” is the more shady, stalking and more traditional dubstep sound most of us are familiar with it. Now in saying this, it is a gorgeous track, with its beautiful synth melodies, staccato beats, deep voical samples and a very haunting albeit calming atmosphere. Peppy house beats and beautiful synth arrangements come in on the songs “Align” and “Trustfalls.” Influences from artists like Flying Lotus, Lone and Teebs combine with dubstep and downtempo on songs like “Ludlow” and “Lupine.”
Without any thought of reassurance, the greatest thing about Mister Lies (or Nick Zanca) is that he is able to transition between genres from song to song so well that it impulsively makes the listener want to hear it over and over again once it’s finished. With all of these fresh new ideas coming constantly into the eardrums, one will be taken to new worlds and explore all the reaches of what electronic music can achieve. Every song on this album brings something new to the table and it’s what makes his music so enjoyable.
The only main gripe about this album is that it is unforgivably short, it has so much potential, but it doesn’t really seem like it wants to reach its full evolution. Only eight songs for an album of this quality, added with each song being roughly three-to-four minutes, is not only begging for more, but also is kind of a major flow breaker. Regardless, this album is a major triumph in musicianship, production and quality. Hearing the transitions on this album reminded me a lot of Shed’s 2010 release The Traveler
which was a hodgepodge of different genres and sounds. It was nostalgic, friendly and welcoming and, to me, it served as a tribute to many great artists all across the electronic community. Mowgli is an extremely well-crafted album on many different levels; it’s to the point and short, but it packs a whole lot of haunting atmosphere and chilling ambient vibes that it makes it hard not to pay attention to the music. It is an album that will grab one’s attention and will stay with them for a long time. It is so far one of the strongest electronic records of the year; no matter how short it is, it will have an impact.