Saturday, December 12, 2009

#20. Mob - I Believe in You (Larm, 2002)

Unlike a lot of the artists on this list, Mob are not a band I sought out specifically. I think it was early 2004 when I was grabbing a couple of Mogwai bootlegs off soulseek that one of the guys I was downloading from suggested I give their most recent album, I Believe in You a try since it was pretty much Mogwai with vocals. So of course having the room at my disposal to do so I grabbed it then and there. Of course when I listened to it a few days later it became clear that the guy had sold it short. Sure, it could be broken down as being Mogwai with vocals, but that didn't go halfway to describing the maelstrom of beautiful, beautiful noise that awaited me. It played out like the ideal meeting point between Sonic Youth post-Experimental Jet Set, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Swervedriver in their prime if they all decided to try to approximate Mogwai's sound with some vocals, and if that doesn't sound like the kind of thing that might strike your fancy the least bit I'd have to question your taste a little. Really, I Believe in You is the best actual discovery, in the sense of actively uncovered as opposed to simply found out about if that makes sense I made this decade, and that's part of what gets them the points.

If it weren't an obscurity though I doubt I'd rank it all that much lower. For such a small album to sound this huge yet deep - seriously, the production here is as impressive as anything I've heard this decade - is a feat on its own, but there's also the hypnotic, repetitive riffing that draws you in and overwhelms you. It's the sort of effect I kept waiting for something like Loveless to deliver but it never quite did, but I Believe in You got it so right it's scary sometimes. Witness the chiming guitar coda from opener "Raging Eyes" or the tremolo-picked build up of "Loved" or the ending groove of "Bardur if you want examples; these are things that theoretically go on far too long, but in practice they're so engulfing and huge sounding that it's hard for me to not get lost in them. Given that all but two of the album's nine tracks cross the 5 minute mark it would be easy to write it off as unnecessarily repetitious at times, and to be fair the closing title track does start to get boring towards the end, but in most cases the band knows what it's doing as far as letting their extended codas work as hypnotic set pieces as opposed to unnecessary post-wankery.

Then there's the sound that those codas come out of. Like I said, you could boil it down to the SY/Trail of dead/Swervies/Mogwai tetrad and not be far off, it's got 'gwai's dynamics, Trail's aggression and apssion, late period SY's tendency for extanded instrumental hypnosis and Swervedriver's energy and texture all synthesized together in perfect proportion, but it winds up sounding unlike any of those bands full stop. Sure the monumental "Raging Eyes" has Washing Machine written all over it but that soesn't predict the crash of distorted guitar that crashes through the track after a couple of minutes. "Loved" could pass for Swervedriver played at 16 rpm in a sewer tunnel but that doesn't explain the hauntingly slow guitar lead that pops up 4 minutes in. And the Mogwai-touches go away on the simple, spare and haunting "All Yours" and the brief, aggressive "Pure Shot" - the latter could fit on any more recent Trail of Dead album if you factor out the vocals though. They seem to enjoy juggling their obvious influences, letting each come to the fore at key times then throwing a curveball just when yo think you know what the band is getting at. It could come across as a cheap ploy to distract the listener from the obvious debts they owe to so many bands of yore, but since that type of thing doesn't bother me all that much and it's not like I Believe in You plays as a pure rip off at any point it doesn't work like that for me at least.

So, just like that a random PM from a random guy on soulseek made be become a one man street team for I Believe in You and to a slightly lesser extent mob's debut And This Was a Good Day. If you look at the album's RYM page I'm persoanlly responsible for every single one of those people hearing this album. I have forced upon dozens of people in the 5 years since I stumbled upon it. It's the only album I've ever done that much legwork to get word out about. I've spent my share of time pimping every single album i've ever loved for any amount of time, but I've never gone out of my way to make sure that people actually gave enough of a shit to actually listen to them outside of I Believe in You. It's not rare that I'll come across a little-know, high-quality album but it's rare that I'll get passionate about it to the point where it feels like it might as well be my album. That's the sort of thing this does to me, even these last few listens have simply got me thinking that more people need to hear this damn album. So here you all go, consider this your newest push, your random recommendation from a guy you've never met before to try something that might take your breath away. If even one of you dozen or so readers takes the initiative to find thisI'll feel like I've done my job.

MP3: "Bardur"

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