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Minipony - Ajna

Minipony
Ajna
by Matt Bozenda at 01 September 2022, 4:05 PM

The best partying days of this particular critic are all but behind him. Sure, there’s the occasional not-so-prescription sleep aid or festival psychotropic, but it’s more like what the kids these days are calling “California sober”. Perhaps that semi-clear-headedness allows for a more dispassionate review, where even when writing outside favored genres, an album can be given a fair shake under its own merits, rather than being persecuted as a fish who did not climb.

That said, it can be tough to find nice things to say about albums which could use a hit of acid. The Ecuadorian trio MINIPONY (that’s presumably pronounced mini-pony as opposed to min-ip-uh-nee) has put forth their sophomore album “Ajna”, the long-awaited follow up to 2017’s debut “Imago”. Where that album was a study in Experimental Technical Death Metal, the new album sounds like it would make more sense while on drugs.

A rising cacophony introduces “Irresponsible”, where listeners who remember the first album are reminded that the vocals are delivered with such overproduction that even for supposed Death metal it’s incomprehensible, going beyond and approaching even POGUES levels of indecipherability. After that, on “Killing Like A Human”, they begin a formula of having a decent but disjointed rhythmic structure with vocals which are almost Scatting, having an abruptly arrived upon bridge which leads to a protracted leadout, but still including an outro.

To point out just a few examples, “Filippos Lullaby” and “Don 18” give off a 90’s Techno vibe covering songs that DOWN recorded but rejected for release. “Breathe” is bumpy and repetitive. “Song For Fiona” drifts further into Nu Metal territory than previously done. And every track, even the short interludes, feel like they go on too long, by at least a third each time.

The one exception may be the title track “Ajna”. While not entirely giving up on its signature sound, the band does take a somewhat more conventional approach to this one, but unfortunately and rather against the norm, it ends way too soon and finishes the album nigh anonymously.

The bare numbers also have little good to tell. Nine musical tracks at a bit over forty-two minutes altogether has the tendency to feel overcooked, and “Ajna” is no exception. As with any bit of music, however, there may be an audience out there, particularly among those who disfavor the fashionable and the orthodox. MINIPONY is certainly not without its own devoted fanbase, both in South America and further abroad.

But even nomads feel the need to settle in from time to time. Will the bucking of trends and absence of conformity work forever? MINIPONY have carved their place in the South American metal circuit but how will they reach a wider audience with their socially conscious but hard to hear lyrics? Lessons learned from every misstep in “Ajna” is the only way to improve for album three, but we’ll have to wait and see if such lessons are taken to heart.

Stupendous album art, though.

Musicianship: 5
Songwriting: 4
Memorability: 4
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. •
2. Irresponsable
3. Kill Like A Human
4. Quaggas
5. Filippos Baby
6. Breathe
7. ••
8. Song For Fiona
9. Don 18
10. Shadow
11. •••
12. Ajna
Lineup:
Emilia Moncayo - vocals, samples
Amadeus Galiano - guitar
Carlos Sȧnchez - drums
Record Label: Subsound Records
     


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