The build up around Mysteries ticks every blog-worthy box going. Here exists a clearly accomplished group with plenty of tools - potentially the product of years of work in other projects - arriving as a new entity, with zero info. Just masks.
Even the band’s LA-based record label claims to know nothing about them. It’s just the music, solely the curious, new wave-nodding recordings that define their first LP ‘New Age Music Is Here’. It’s just a hunch, but chances are Mysteries consists of at least a couple of well-known musicians looking to make an impact based on everything but reputation. A new beginning, a way of exposing talent with zero previous impressions. It’s a situation plenty of well known names have dreamt of, and in a project like The Acid, anonymous beginnings have paved way for an impressionable surprise.
But with Mysteries, it’d be better if things stayed this way, behind a fog. Members of Wild Beasts and TV On the Radio are rumoured to be involved in the project, but forget that.
On their first work, they tell stories that don’t require faces. There’s enough in a trembling vocal or a soaring synth line to paint emotions in every dry detail. Anonymity isn’t what’s important here - this is more than just a casual experiment on the constantly thirsty, click-happy crowd.
Below, we’re delighted to get the group’s impressions on their debut album, out now on Felte. It’s available to stream below in full. Within this track-by-track guide, there’s an evident amount of ‘we’ve done this before’ fatigue, replenished by this exciting new beginning.
We recorded this album entirely ourselves in various locations; our homes, an old house in the country, a garage owned by a spiritual healer and a room at the back of a warehouse full of boxes of what we think were Taiwanese made marital aids.
The core of the album was written in a10 day period that produced 10 songs, several of which went the distance, and then amended with a few which appeared from the shadows over the coming months.
Many of the best musical experiences exist outside of your immediate perception in our opinion, and I would personally include making this album in that category. I’m not entirely sure where some of this stuff came from, yet, here we are.
We hope you listening to the record without too much of the usual inane promo like our ‘top 5 taco trucks’ will make it an engaging experience. Hopefully we say just enough to provide a half decent companion as you make your way through the music. That is after all what this whole caper is about.
Introduction (New Age Music Is Here)
This one was the first idea written for the album.
I find it hard to associate ourselves with being responsible for this track. It sounds to me now like a flood of sweat that had built up over a long period of time that just started falling out, and we needed to find an appropriate container to catch it all in. I was initially determined with this album to make a digital/analogue spiritual masterpiece in the mould of Alice or John Coltrane. Instead I think we achieved a sort of analysis of spiritual inadequacy… a theme that seems to run throughout many of the songs, but I guess realising this is all part of the journey towards some sort of new age of enlightenment, and certainly writing these tracks was at least therapeutic for us if no one else.
This song was always destined to be the introductory track or nothing.
Knight Takes Rook
By chance, I watched an interview with Bryan Ferry on the television and then wrote and recorded this demo in about 40 min. I’m not an especially big Roxy Music fan as such. Not that this sounds anything like them… ‘Avalon’ really takes me somewhere special though, like eating chocolate mousse in satin sheets.
The inspiration for this song came from someone we know who had a one night stand whilst travelling in Germany and got the girl pregnant, She wanted to keep the child, so he moved across the world to the country’s industrial north and started a new life with her. It comes in the guise of a love song of sorts, but it’s essentially about the universe, and how you don’t fuck with it.
The piano part was recorded in an abandoned house we found that looked like had been the scene of an exorcism.
An utterly uplifting song about feeling invisible. The title was inspired by a Japanese friend of mine telling me even though he was born in Japan he is stateless because of his Korean parentage, the rest of it I wrote lying facedown on the floor of my hallway. A few clicks and clacks later and a drum take recorded with one microphone in the spiritual healer’s garage and the track was done.
Because every person is different, you should consider this song as a general approach to self-development only, and not as a tailored therapy, means for diagnosis, or replacement for medical advice. With that disclaimer in mind, let’s get started…
Musically this one a jigsaw, the way everything interlocks. In fact much of the album is a strange puzzle. We were motivated to embrace unknown feelings and impulses in general, let shit get a bit zodiac, or in this case get a bit Beyonce-madrigal.
There is a popular notion these days that ‘authenticity’ is the most important thing in music. To me that is something that people who work for telecommunications companies and listen to Bon Iver decided. Let’s get one thing straight; there’s nothing particularly authentic about rock n roll. It’s largely theatre, mythology and often deception, even delusion.
We just got sent a very disturbing and amazing video for this song from an anonymous online fan, which we will be making the official clip shortly.
“If we went with the tide every time, we would’ve drowned years ago.”
This probably should be a ‘single’. We’re probably the least qualified people to reasonably assess that, but suffice to say I think it’s got some moxy about it. This demo got thrown in the ring early on. We pretty much tweaked the lyrics, replaced the drums, added a couple of synths and it was done. A real satisfying build this one. It’s nice when you don’t have to fight with the music, just take it out for a couple of drinks, dancing, and then put it to bed.
There seems to me to be a disconnection between the way humans are inwardly and outwardly existing at the moment.
It’s a difficult thing to try and process so much information and expectation all the time. When this song was written I was feeling somewhat culturally/socially out of phase I suspect, but I since feel reconciled with the nature of things.
I am prepared to accept that culture shifts, and I probably have no bearing on it, but I won’t let go of the idea that good and long lasting things ultimately deserve intent, time and/or personal and spiritual commitment. Music especially. If we went with the tide every time, we would’ve drowned years ago.
This was a great, almost fully formed demo one of us had which we pretty much fleshed out in a couple of hours at our house; added the vocal harmonies, electric bass, and kind of improvised the instrumental C section, which turned out to be one of my favourite moments on the record (debatable use of agogo bells and all).
Excellent melodic context/use of the word ‘fucking’ in this track too fyi imho tbt.
Call And Response, With Morals
This was the last song we finished. We decided to complete it a handful of days before the mix. It was an early demo that one of us had made and then written off, but the others kept asking for it to get a run.
It just hung around fermenting in the back of the fridge until the smell became too overpowering and we figured the world needed more Abba-esque power piano riffs and motivational vocal harmonies… The chorus melody has this sing-song quality to it which reminded us of those animated segments you’d get on Sesame Street, you know, the ones where a talking shoe teaches its laces an important moral life lesson through a call and response song.
I guess you could say it’s about how humans manage our secrets. Privacy is a thing of the past. Everybody knows it.
In The Dark
I started listening a lot to 1950’s vocal groups a few years ago, artists like The Drifters and The Flamingos. Those guys weren’t fucking around. Kind of unconsciously as a result, vocal layering assumes the role of outlining harmony in a lot of these tracks, using voices to make shifts in otherwise static fields of rhythm and texture.
We had this odd idea of having a 50’s style boy/girl melodrama lyric for this otherwise pretty stark and claustrophobic track.1950’s music has a wonderful way of exploring the idea of danger and sin and wrapping it up in a baby blue crushed velvet tuxedo. I guess ‘In The Dark’ is somewhat a nod to that, as opposed to what you get a lot of now days in popular music; images of someone simulating blowjobs in a hard hat, or some prick forcing them to do it.
Essentially a song about temptation, about finding yourself transfixed by someone you know you shouldn’t be. The original demo idea was called Deckard, and the lyric just came from that (kind of stupidly. I guess when you don’t really know how to write songs you’ve got to take what you can get). I will happily accept this one from the universe. The result is a pretty strange piece of music with a great keyboard solo.
The whole track was initially built around a sample of a photocopier, but I’m not sure if you can still hear it in there. A lot of the tracks were formed like that actually; built like a house of cards around an imperfect fragment of audio. The drum stuff kind of reminds me a bit of Ike Yard who we were listening to around this time, and obviously Vangelis gets a hap tip as well.
This one is probably my favourite on the album, partly because the demo was written and recorded in about 30 min, and very little changed between then and what you hear on the album. A rare moment of clarity… which is often all you can ask for really.
The day it was written I had run into a girl I know whose boyfriend had just left her for someone else. It was interesting to see this person I only knew otherwise as quite domineering in such a vulnerable way. In the end the song is more of a celebration of trust and vulnerability than a post-mortem of it.