Review Summary: Give me seven scoops of pure pink indulgence
The revelation I got from Deviations
was that I didn't need to understand a thing to enjoy it. Mammoth, a Los Angeles progressive metal trio consisting of Wes Thrailkill (guitar), Yasutaka Nomura (bass), and Aliyar Kinik (drums), have done all the thinking for me.
knows exactly what it is. There’s no identity crisis to be found in its seemingly disjointed, multi-part compositions that leap from section to section with shocking ease. The way that songs segue and flow into one another almost makes Deviations
feel like a single lengthy piece. A cup of free-form jazz, a teaspoonful of funk, and a sprinkle of shimmering ambience - Deviations
has it all, and then some. Its only predictability lies in its unpredictability, its progressions frequently colliding into fresh new ideas. And all of this, of course, is executed with an impeccable sense of technicality. The playing flows effortlessly through the smooth runs of Deviations
- no viscosity is present here. Flying solos abound, of which the bass guitar actually gets a pretty big share. Indeed, just think of skilled acrobats quickly navigating through a jungle of trapezes. To top it all off, the production is clean and expansive, offering plenty of room for the sounds of Deviations
plays out, it embraces ambience and chaos in equal parts. It’s sweet perfectly paired up with savoury. “Entanglements” contrasts its jittery dissonance with reprieves of softly radiating guitar and a languorous bass passage. And it’s in such sweet moments that I can almost feel myself floating off into the realms of Deviations
’ atmosphere. “The Acclimation of Sedation” (feat. Chase Bryant and Mateus Asato) is just as dreamy, and serves as an expository for two guest solos. Granted, I’m not sure if the soloists add much variety to the actual composition, but they are welcome presences nonetheless for their technical prowess. “Obscurements” (feat. Ben Luria) is the funky 10-minute staple of the record, complete with saxophone and an insanely groovy bassline that I can’t resist grinning about. Come to think of it, Deviations
has plenty of quirky moments - “The Hilarity of Singularity” features odd chromatic passages and twangy notes, the title track randomly brings in a programmed beat (and makes it work), and “Unlimited Access to the None” cranks up the funk to 11.
is self-indulgent. Deviations
is carefree. It’s an exploration of music-making limits without much regard for conventional structuring or easy hooks. Yet it’s very assured about its abilities to be not only interesting, but effortlessly pleasing. It has the confidence of a worldly, travelled man who knows every corner of the land. No doubt Deviations
is a serious work, but it always retains a sense of fun, perhaps even cheekiness. In fact, that might be what really unites the tracks of Deviations
- it might not rely on individual melodic connections, but rather a more overarching thematic or emotional coherence. While it’s hard to pinpoint the source of this unity from the ground-up, a more global outlook reveals Deviations
' character as an entity that aims to be anarchic in itself. The seemingly contradictory term of “organized chaos” helps to capture the wild and wandering spirit of Deviations
; it knows that every step it takes is towards some ultimate direction, even if that direction isn’t yet apparent to anyone.
doesn’t give a damn about what you think. It’s aware of its own purpose, its own beauty, and it has no qualms about showing off. Write a dissertation about its chord progressions, or just bop along - either one’ll work.