Mastica '99 (First World)

Texas Platters

Record Reviews

Mastica

'99 (First World)

On '99, local warehouse pop trio Mastica offers up an inviting selection of uniquely phrased, definitely not-Top 40 original music. The Austin three-piece is Gum B. on bass, cello, mandocello, and vox; Monkey on bontempi, guitar, reeds, and vox; and Pat Mastelotto on drums and knobs. If you haven't heard of the Gum B./Monkey husband-wife team, chances are you've heard Mastelotto's drums, either with King Crimson, or in one of his many hired-gun sessions with everyone from Patti LaBelle to XTC. Mastica's debut benefits from three things: cool songs, intrepid experimentation on atypical instruments, and a Tom Waits-like ruff sonic patina, like "Crescent Moon," which has a Morphinesque ride that ends with an impromptu implosion. In spite of pockets of overused melodies, Gum and Monkey's singing delivers David Sylvian introspection and Veruca Salt extroversion. As expected, Mastelotto is prominent, as on the attractive mess that is "Muñecos de Pato," where the skinbeater uses an orchestra of compressed drums like the mammoth tom tracks of Peter Gabriel's first solo albums. "Prison" finds a clarinet, snappy snare, and bass ostinato melting with sampled audio quotes taken from Texas folklorist Alan Lomax's famous 1947 recordings of Mississippi prison songs and sayings. Superior to Moby's tinkering in the same direction, the song's amazing snippets are then manipulated beyond recognition, like a prisoner's emotional state. The song, like '99 itself, is both thought-provoking and engaging.

***.5

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