[Reviewed by: Peter Marks]
It was time for a change for Mobthrow, a shift away from the grit and bombast his debut had down pat. I applaud the move as there are few things more infuriating than getting just more of the same from an artist. Some things about what he does have not gone away at all, the tension is still there as is the precision. ‘Unfolded’ comes out of the speakers and right at you, there’s no warning. Playing it through, I come away with palpable unease; when those key lines begin to appear from nowhere and the beats are pushed to the back, it’s hard to stay focused on any one element. Mobthrow’s style may have been easier to distill on his first record but I dare you to try and nail it down this time.
Maybe if Jorge Reyes were still alive, this fellow’s material would be easier to analyze but as that isn’t the case, strap in and prepare for what can only be termed tribal with a side of menace. I’ve no idea what Mobthrow’s manifesto is but I’ll say that the results are something stranger than anything I could have expected. Playing his two albums back to back it doesn’t even sound like the same person doing this and yet somehow it is. Somehow even though ‘Unfolded’ is unbelievably disorientating at times, like any sailor caught out at sea you’ll find your legs. Your bearings will return and just maybe what’s on here will begin to auger into your mind without resistance. It isn’t everyday an album like this shows up so fully formed. There’s been a sizable gap between releases and he’s used that time to wisely expand his techniques.
Most are going to be a bit puzzled with the tendency this work has to jump around and not follow any pattern or formula, there’s plenty of that garbage already out there, why stick with safe. Mobthrow have chosen to take a very big gamble here as this is a transitional collection of songs, no don’t worry none of them are unfinished or raggedy second-rate demos… what they are clearly point towards unknown territory. ‘Unfolded’ is a well named album, truly. From the chrysalis of what he first put out and now onto the cocoon, when he appears next I’ll be caught off guard yet again. So many others never get beyond that oh so comfortable womb in terms of how they write and design.
To stay in the wubs would have been easy for someone like this but he steps out, way out and unsurprisingly the results demand some serious attention. Even when his compositions appears to come straight at you, they don’t. Black Sun Empire and Tech Itch may have been trying to pull this off but, regrettably, the very trends they set gobbled them up. Amit’s ‘9 Times’ release is about the only thing I can think of which approaches this currently. The roots of ‘Unfolded’ I can trace back to Makai’s legendary ‘Stealth’ LP or even Lexis’ one and only album on Certificate 18: ‘Branch of Knowledge’.
Mobthrow deliver on the atmospheres with greater confidence than any of them, however. His penchant for distortion and deformed electronics paired to found sounds is quite a remarkable achievement; some of what’s to be found on here borders on modular, skeletal electro clad in a dizzying array of delicate, layered textures. It’s going to be a real treat to hear where he goes next.