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Myth Of I – Myth Of I Award winner

Myth Of I
Myth Of I
by Santiago Puyol at 27 April 2020, 10:21 PM

What is it with Berklee and its outstanding Avant-Garde Metal alumnae? First, it was the brilliant (and sadly defunct) NATIVE CONSTRUCT. Now, the wonderful MYTH OF I. The self-titled debut by this talented quartet is a mish-mash of influences and sounds, delivering an eclectic, instrumental song-cycle with a strong jazzy flair. Although the Progressive Metal genre is a good umbrella term, I’d be more inclined to consider it Avant-Garde, as it takes elements from everything between Post-Rock melancholy and Japanese-tingled 80’s Jazz Fusion.

"Myth of I" opens with the soft, undulating guitars of "Pandora", atop a bed of ambient sounds. A pastoral and calming introduction with subtle piano playing. Layered and looping guitar work in this Post-Rockish tune. It flows masterfully into "The Illustrator", a packed and dense track with a shifting structure. Reminiscent of ANIMALS AS LEADERS, it features some nice synth work adding a subtle videogame vibe, as well as exquisite guitar soloing. A jazzy and technical song with impressive musicianship but still filled with emotion.

A sinister intro gives way to "Cherophobia". Some subtle glockenspiel or xylophone touches add a nice soundtrack quality to it. There is some stunning clean guitar passages and the use of chromatic percussion provide some colourful textures overall. Studio tricks and effects are used masterfully to add a sense of dynamism and playful intensity throughout the song. Halfway through, it goes for a nasty, heavy breakdown before settling on a catchy groove for the last minute-and-half.

"Obsidian Vale" moves closer to BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME territory than other tracks on the album, with the synth work in particular very reminiscent of "Parallax II"-era. Not surprising considering Jamie King was involved in mixing and other production work on the record. The beautiful, jazzy and spacey middle section of the track lulls the listener into a trance, relaxing and hypnotic. Some nasty soloing on the last third of the track allows for intricate and passionate shredding. An ambient coda connects it beautifully with the next track.

A synth and guitar combo provides the backbone of "Glass Castles", a memorable riff upon which the band builds everything else. The addition of organ lends a psychedelic classic Prog feel to this haunting extravaganza. Another brief but effective breakdown on 2:13 minutes. Odd time signatures abound. Extremely groovy and melodic. Meanwhile, "Needlepoint" manages to sound straight out of Donkey Kong Country’s OST but on steroids, with its swingy, exotic flair. CHON, THANK YOU SCIENTIST and PLINI come to mind at several points.

"The Maze" opens with lovely acoustic guitar. For the first two minutes, the song ebbs and flows with the feel of slightly complex island music. It is easy to picture sunny beaches or breezy nights under the moonlight. It turns into a drunken waltz after that, with some sinister undertones, before moving into a squeaking-guitar breakdown. It certainly feels less coherent than previous tracks, opting for a more free-flowing, jammy vibe, and Avant-Gardish “everything works” songwriting style. Still, it rewards attentive listeners with a knack for fun, unpredictable tracks.

The jazz-fusion influences come to the forefront on "Kodama", especially considering the tasteful guitar work and syncopated drumming. Paying homage to its Japanese title, it takes a couple of nods from the Japanese jazz-fusion scene, reminiscent of the work of bands like CASIOPEA or T-SQUARE. Some gorgeous synths and playful electronics contribute to the mood of the song. The inclusion of Nate Miller’s erhu completes the exotic feel and adds some vulnerability to a high-energy track.

"妖怪(ようかい)" is little more than a lovely, danceable interlude, with RADIOHEAD and PORCUPINE TREE vibes. Its title translate to "Yokai (Monsters.)" "Felix Culpa" brings back the tight Prog Metal extravaganza. Electronic beats and live drums are mixed together in an organic way. Melodramatic piano lines, beautifully layered guitar work and sci-fi sounding synths provide an almost Gothic feel underneath the track. It might never be too explicit but that mix of theatricality and nostalgia is undeniably present.

The album goes for the heaviest track with its closer, "Panzer". An epic track to close off the record, returning to the more streamlined and straightforward songwriting of the first couple of songs on the album. It certainly fits, as the album draws to a close on a really high note.

MYTH OF I deliver an excellent and dazzling debut with their self-titled record. Every member of the band does a tremendous job with his own instrument, as the musicianship is clearly the most impressive element of the record. Still, the songs come to life because the songwriting is strong, and the album as a whole keeps things interesting with a strong sense of groove and some truly memorable sections. Production-wise things are almost perfect, although I miss hearing the instruments a little more clear at points, especially the lovely synths and warm basslines. Still, a minor nit-pick considering how much the studio becomes another instrument on this 49-minute sonic adventure.

Pay attention to MYTH OF I because this record is a testament to the power of instrumental music that defies genre definitions. It is more than obvious that this is a record made by music lovers who do not get stuck on one idea, genre or feel. Eclecticism and unconventionality get to be a virtues here.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Pandora
2. The Illustrator
3. Cherophobia
4. Obsidian Vale
5. Glass Castles
6. Needlepoint
7. The Maze
8. Kodama
9. 妖怪(ようかい)
10. Felix Culpa
11. Panzer
Jennings Smith – Guitar
Tyler Fritzel – Guitar
Aodán Collins – Bass
Matt Lippa – Drums
Nate Miller – Erhu on "Kodama"
Record Label: The Artisan Era


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