Hirror Enniffer

(Hydra Head)

recommended recommendedrecommended

Five listens into Hirror Enniffer and I'm still not sure what to make of it. That Mamiffer's debut album doesn't really conform to typical Hydra Head traits further complicates matters. Such elusiveness usually points either to a woeful mess of a record or a work that rewards perseverance. With Hirror, I'm leaning toward the latter.

Led by Faith Coloccia (a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who used to play in Everlovely Lightningheart and who moved to Seattle from Palm Springs, California) and Chris Common (These Arms Are Snakes drummer), Mamiffer start with common components like piano and electric guitar and then, with help from four other players and three vocalists, weave in field recordings, guitar, organ, cello, glass jars, bass, drums, and Japanese distortion pedals. The results coalesce into a strange strain of chamber-orchestral rock informed by a fondness for minimalist composition's mesmerizing repetition.

The disc begins with "This Land," in which stark, stately piano figures repeat over ominous guitar/bass static and martial drums, before Coloccia's entrancing glossolalia enters the fray, an angelic element amid the subtly demonic undertow. The gradually building "Death Shawl" features anguished guitar squeals and a grinding keyboard drone that suggests impending doom in a church, like Charlemagne Palestine's swarming Bösendorfer organ tones infested by the nefarious spirit of noise maven Kevin Drumm. The track is a claustrophobic, gothic nightmare sure to cause fear and trembling. "Black Running Water" starts with leisurely rolling, blue-toned piano and shadowy guitar feedback before blossoming into some gorgeous Brit-prog melodrama reminiscent of King Crimson's first LP.

Throughout Hirror, melody battles with noise, light with darkness. These oppositions are mostly reconciled in brooding pieces of gripping drama.

You know what? This disc really started to click on the sixth listen. It's a glowering grower. recommended