“You won’t belong, because you can’t connect” prophesies a barely audible voice amid a plethora of discordant percussion and swelling electronics as the introduction to ‘New Age Music Is Here’ takes hold. In many ways it’s more difficult to connect with something that’s masked, so coming from this anonymous group, supposedly yet to reveal themselves even to their label, it’s a statement that carries with it an air of self-defeatism on early listening.
Anonymity can, of course, become a gimmick in itself, and with the sheen of the press shots and the assuredness of production it’s no surprise that attention quickly turned to who might be lurking behind the music. Comparisons prompted a seemingly tongue-in-cheek upload of a picture of Wild Beasts with all but Hayden Thorpe’s face coloured in, but if you were to use Wild Beasts as a reference point then the shadowy synths and swooning pop harmonies of ‘NAMIH’ do bare resemblance to ‘Present Tense’, only twisted and taken to a yet darker, off-kilter place.
It’s that real feeling of darkness that underpins this record; the sense that it’s come from a bleak and desperate perspective. The pulsating energy that breaks through in parts, most notably on ‘Newly Thrown’, does tease at being uplifting, but the overriding atmosphere is cemented by lyrics that recall an unfulfilled “glimpse of a thing called happiness”.
Whilst pounding drums and murky electronics provide, and then ultimately send mechanical tremors through the foundations of ‘NAMIH’, its changing shapes and intricate ethereal scatterings make for a captivating listen. There’s a diversity to be found within an offering that, ultimately, almost swaggers in its own sonic coherence. There’s the jittery glitchiness of ‘Stateless Wonder’ compared with the haunting minimalism of ‘In The Dark’, yet Mysteries are able to transmit a sort of angular groove when finding their flow on ‘I Wanna’ and ‘Deckard’, not so dissimilar to the kind that had people making weird shapes with their arms to earlier Foals tracks.
Perhaps, beneath the cliches that surround faceless projects like this, there is a genuine desire here for these themes to be explored from a different angle, one that provides the listener with a new challenge given its brooding all-baring nature. ‘New Age Music Is Here’ may not be the pioneering sound that its title suggests, but rather than encouraging disconnection, the mystery of its makers actually serves to drag you further in to the intrigue, and to what becomes an uncertain yet intense embrace.
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