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While attempting to discover a worthwhile musical act in today’s violent menagerie of recycled condensation remains a vastly difficult pursuit, if you dig deep enough beneath the steaming pile of period throwbacks, reiterated riffs and bland, white-bread fluff, you’ll soon discover those hidden morsels of gold that are still beaming down to those of us willing to search.
Mangelwurzel’s debut album, Gary bursts at the seams with every style imaginable leaving the listener in awe at the endless imaginations of the insane sextet.
One such nugget of lustrous amber is Melbourne presiding band, Mangelwurzel. The elated, warped majesty emanating from the group has earned a loyal following and has resulted in their most bold and adventurous release to date, their debut album Gary. The ten-track bulldozer spills out the sides with glittering experimentation and bursts with collective energy, rendering the listener brainwashed for its 35 minute run time.
Building on a foundation steeped in amalgamation of people, genres and experiences, Gary is a piping hot casserole of sexual angst, existential musings and leisurely stroll through the bizarre. The sweet spice of alternative rock covers the meat of neo-soul which swims in a punk broth and bears the complex aromas of modern jazz, it’s a truly delicious concoction but one that’s truly difficult to pin down.
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Opening jam, Fishy Fry lures the listener into a false sense of security with benevolent barre chord distortion feigning familiar territory…until the song warps into completely unexpected territory. Fat, beefy funk horns squeeze their juices over odd time signatures that become a centrepiece of the record from that point forward. Soon, Fishy Fry is taking you on a journey between the ears and into the minds of six artists totally in synch.
Vocalist, Cosmia Jaala of other intrepid genre jumpers, Jaala, provides her signature cut-throat cute bringing true character to such complexity. Her visceral squeals and cuddly drawls can be heard at full throttle in the LP’s standout track Hawaii, a fully realised masterpiece of inter-genre movement. Laden with enough variation to be ten songs melted down to a three minute master-jam, Hawaii miraculously maintains a flow so effortless that it remains memorable even through such alterations. Slithering synths, stabbing horns and Cosmia Jaala’s frantic howls and ultra-rythmic scats build into a cut that’s equal parts awe-inspiring and groove-initiating.
Skip somewhere around the middle and Gary seems utterly relentless. Ever-moving sections through each song give the listener no time to rest, just as one groove settles in your toes, another launches into your ears to throw you off. For some, this will be a detractor from the record but for most, the incessant invention of Gary will be its most tantalizing feature. Mangelwurzel reach peak Mangelwurzel in Baby Pie; an utterly frightening concept track taken straight from a Tim Burton film on LSD. Lyrically, Baby Pie essentially threatens cannibalism but in that classic cute the band does so well. It’s kinda…nice.
Gary will be divisive, as with any cutting-edge innovation, but bear with it and reap the insane rewards. The album slaps you in the face but apologizes immediately, it’s the sonic incarnation of a sour patch kid, it’s equal parts sophisticated complexity and childish exploration. Imagine the future soul of Hiatus Kaiyote lays down for a vigorous love-making session with the bizarre synth rock of David Byrne and just about everyone else you can think of and you’re almost there. Mangelwurzel is limitless yet instantly recognizable and Gary is a motherfucker.
Catch Mangelwurzel on tour in support of the new LP at these dates, proudly presented by Happy!
2602 Melbourne, Northcote Social Club
12.03 Sydney, Newtown Social Club
18.03 Brisbane, The Foundry
19.03 S.Coast, Sol Bar
31.03 Adelaide, Jive Bar
01.04 Perth, Babushka Bar
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