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Welcome to our newest member, edoqon

Masvidal - Mythical Award winner

Masvidal
Mythical
by Sean McGuirk at 07 June 2019, 1:43 AM

There are few elite artists in the Metal world that have garnered a following crafting music that transcends the often-strict self-imposed regulations of the genre. Paul Masvidal is one of those musicians. Much like Devin TownsendMikael Akerfeldt or Steven Wilson, he has done everything but follow in someone else’s path. His first band, CYNIC, is renown — even with only one full official release prior to the band’s reformation in 2008 — for its chaotic indifference to formula.  Those who loved the experimental, jazz-infused style of Death Metal back in 1993 became fans for life. The band’s “comeback” album, “Traced In Air”— to some a departure — was so well-received that it solidified Masvidal as a rare artist who rewards those with the patience to follow along.

That brings us to “Mythical Human Vessel,” a three-part work that is being released one segment at a time. First up, is “Mythical.” If CYNIC is a band full of sound and fury and advanced mathematics, “Mythical” is the antidote. Here Masvidal plays singer/songwriter in a minimalist set of songs that explore the emotional side of the human experience. True to form, however, he takes this idea to the next level by utilizing Isochronic Tones, which are a series of machine-derived pulses, buzzes and deep bass that is supposed to penetrate the subconscious mind and influence an altered state.

These healing tones, created by auditory researcher Stéphane Pigeon, blend with Masvidal’s breathy vocals and acoustic jazz chords — themselves shifting and transmuting like the frequencies that bubble sub-audibly underneath the surface — to create a New Age nu-classic, something that yoga teachers to NY subway riders to fans of Elliot Smith or Jeff Buckley can put on their iPhones and chill out to. Simplicity is a big part of its effectiveness. Masvidal sheds the metaphysical imagery and metaphor to speak directly to his audience. It’s a didactic experience, not only with the brain-training aspect of the Isochronic Tones, but also the way he relays his feelings as those felt by the human collective.

With each EP containing a theme, “Mythical” may be a reference to the mythology that we tell ourselves, that is often our worst enemy. In “Into The War,” he says: “I may say I love you, don’t hide/It took too many years for these words to arrive.” It’s the battle between our true spirit and the stories that come before us, those that define how we interact with each other and ourselves. This set feels like the beginning of an awakening, of recognizing the traps that we fall into. The idea may be best expressed in the song “Parasite”: “Pantomime, hand in hand we drown/to merge with the tides/Parasite, buried in me.

“No Other Words” talks about escaping the voice in your head and making the leap: “The monsters are inside the room/Break through.” The last two songs offer a vision of hope that is still stained by defeat, “Nebula” describes too-lofty spiritual aims being doused by earthly feelings of inadequacy. The duality of these counter-productive forces in our own lives is the essence of being human, and something Masvidal treats with extreme care and thoughtfulness as he sings his poetry. The closing track “Letter To Love,” is a literal love letter to this idea: “When I know it’s right I make it wrong/Oh love/But you heal me.

The set ends on an isolated track of just the Isochronic sounds that you’ve already experienced in listening to the album from start to finish. The tones are audible, mostly in between songs, and occasionally when the pulsing beat blends with the rhythms of the music. Along with PigeonMasvidal enlists percussionist Alfie Vienneau and pedal steel guitarist Joshua Grange to help round out the sound. It’s a wholly unique, transcendent experience, and most certainly not Metal, by anyone’s definition.

Call it what you will, it’s music with a purpose: to put you in a place of healing and positivity, but also openness and honesty. There’s no idea more Metal than that. “Mythical” is a great first step for what may prove to be an important and powerful overall work from an artist, and a human, who continues to evolve.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. No Other Words
2. Into The War
3. Parasite
4. Nebula
5. Letter to Love
6. Mythical (with Stephane Pigeon)
Lineup:
Paul Masvidal - Guitar, Vocals
Stéphane Pigeon - Isochronic tones
Alfie Vienneau - Percussion
Joshua Grange - Pedal Steel, Vibraphone
Record Label: Masvidalien Records
     


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Edited 17 September 2019
 

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