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Mythical Beast - Scales


Mythical Beast

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

What first hits you right between the eyes in this group is the presence of Corinne Sweeney, who has a helluva voice, powerful and wild. Then the rough and ragged guitar of Jeremiah Orndorff Cowlin stomps into the room and sets up a thick sludgey dungeon of fog and demons while Aaron Lee Hawn carries the rhythm section on bass (and synth, when it appears). Like labelmates Heavy Hands (reviewed here), Mythical Beast is a power trio carrying a few sonic affinities to stoner rock but with unorthodox compositions starting out in standard refrains refusing to resolve in the expected ways, more a sophisticated operatic exercise during a Druidic rite of passage.

None of this is polished beyond a certain threshold—which is quite attractive to those of us who relish the everything-AND-the-kitchen-sink days of the old Whiskey-A-Go-Go, Troubador, and etc.—but it's definitely experimental, willing to take risks, and, by that, charts territory basically uncovered by much of anyone. There's a Nico-ish element (River Blindness, Chaos Spinner), though the late chanteuse would never wail like Sweeney, and faint traces of Gomorrha, perhaps Pere Ubu antedating itself, and God only knows what else. This unit doesn't lean heavily into influences but rather finds ways to build new platforms. Thus, while you get the fuzz drone of the drugstate sound, don't expect the standard change-ups or resolves. Mythical Beast pulls their extensions well beyond middle-eights and variations, even to Hawkwindish buzzes and layered repetitions (Eyes Into Space).

It's not a surprise that such a combo would land on the Language of Stone label, a venue that has already well overthrown older prog-psych ventures like Reckless Records (Black Sun Ensemble, Bevis Frond, etc.). In a strange way, what the trio is doing here, deconstructing and re-establishing territory, even has sympathies in the work of ensembles like Thinking Plague. I suspect, too, speaking of unusual moves, that the cool Tanz Der Lemminge photo beneath the disc plate is no accident and a tip of the hat to that estimable group. I haven't a clue how to categorize Scales. I like it a lot, but I'm warning ya: whatever you think it might be, it ain't that.

Track List:

  • Cycle / Circle
  • Black Walls
  • River Blindness
  • Live to Live
  • Eyes Into Space
  • Light in the Maze
  • Chaos Spinner
  • Ready for Waste
All songs written by Mythical Beast.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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