Mamiffer ‎– Statu Nascendi

12" Glued Sleeve

[Reviewed by vitriol]

After a 3-year break from their individual discography – their last album, not counting collaborative releases, was “Mare Decendrii” in 2011 – Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia return with “Statu Nascendi”, that literally means ‘a state of being born’. As the sound here is considerably renewed and this album is meant to be a sort of bridge between their previous works and the next one – which is to be expected quite soon – the title makes a lot of sense. A new aspect in the project’s existence is about to be born, and all we need to do is expect what will come out of it. The suggestive cover photograph of a child with a slightly wondering, slightly dreamy expression might mean just that: a personality in the process of being created, a Self on the verge of being discovered.

That said, “Statu Nascendi” doesn’t feel at all like a transitional effort. If we set all the information aside and just appreciate the music for what it is, we may very easily conclude that it stands out in its own right. Containing four compositions, it is a minimalistic amalgam of abject melodies and toned down post-rock and acoustic guitars, with Faith Coloccia’s romantically tinged, folkish vocals presiding over a faery-like melancholy that runs through the music like a chill midnight air running through dark woods. Every note lingers a little longer than expected, the silence between phrases is ominous and significant. Even though elements of neoclassical, dreampop and traditional folk make an occasional appearance, the overall spirit of the music is more doom/ shoegaze than anything else. There are ghosts roaming this forest, and it’s under the light of the moon that everything takes place. The distinctively female character given to the album by the prominence of the female vocals is beautifully counterpointed by the gloomy, measured guitars, that at times slip into noise or selective dissonance. A perfect aural convergence of male and female.

The album begins with “Caelestis Partus”, that translates as ‘heavenly offspring’ or ‘heavenly gift’. But for the doomgaze acoustic guitars, this could very well have been a folk song. But the melodies are a little too downcast and drifting than what we are normally used to from folk ensembles, and the sound and atmosphere is more dreamlike and fragile. The song consists only of Faith’s vocals and Aaron’s acoustic guitars weaving a sad melody that holds the listener captive in its web of ethereal beauty. I make special notice of Faith’s background vocals, that provide the track with added grace and allure.

“Enantiodromia” is a term used to describe the emergence of every force in the superabundance of its opposite, for instance an excess of love will generate hate, an excess of peace will generate war, and so on. It’s also the title for the album’s second and longest track – and perhaps this ultimately balancing struggle of two opposing forces summarizing the movements of the universe, could explain the many different elements used in the track. The first few minutes are ruled by an organ that gives out such an infinitely forlorn, almost mourning melody. As if for something lost forever, never to return. Droning guitars hold the notes in suspension, to emphasize on this effect of utter despair. Then there is silence. And then the doom guitars come in, the organ returns and for a long while there is a suspenseful interaction between the two, interrupted a little while later by Faith’s vocals, that seem partly to be reciting and partly to be singing the words to some ancient, high ritual. There is a droning escalation, noisy but controlled, and this fleeting glimpse of the High Priestess fades back into the recesses of time.

After this sweeping experience the introspectively melancholic piano in “Mercy” is somewhat grounding. Faith accompanies the music with her vocals in an exercise of compositional simplicity and elegance, and the result is a hauntingly beautiful, memorable piece of music.

Speaking of memorable, the album’s last track, “Flower Of The Field” would probably be my favourite if I was actually able to choose. A strong, steady rhythm followed by the vocals, and guitars just heavy and grinding enough to give the sound volume while at the same time allowing for its characteristic spaciousness to reveal the high points of the composition. A crunching escalation, an abrupt end and some white noise. And the fae dance is over.

“Statu Nascendi” is the kind of album where all the tracks end up being your favourites, in no particular order. It doesn’t even take multiple listens to decide that, it just happens on the go. The immediacy with which these two artists approach their music and the listener is quite refreshing. You are not required to put in any particular effort in order to concentrate on it or understand it; it’s so enchanting that it simply takes you by the hand and lures you away into the meadows. And you are quite happy to follow.

Mamiffer ‎– Statu Nascendi
SIGE, SIGE 035
LP 2014

Mamiffer – Caelestis from Daniel Menche on Vimeo.

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