Mar 06, 2013 Web Exclusive
After breaking out in early 2012 with a pair of buzzed-over EPs, 20-year-old Chicago-based producer Nick Zanca sequestered himself in his family's Vermont lake cottage to record his debut full-length. That seclusion can be heard and felt in the record's dark rhythms and muffled vocals, which give off a persistent air of loneliness. Mowgli is a record defined by its striking, downbeat atmosphere.
The specter of Massive Attack looms heavily across the whole album. From the opening snare clicks and warbled ringing of "Ashore," you'll hear echoes of that English electronic group's hit "Teardrop." It's not until four minutes in, when the steady beats disintegrate and woozy synth chords come to dominate the mix, that you'll know you're in for more than a second-rate trip hop rip-off. "Dionysian," the LP's second track, is where things proceed to get spookier; the distant, warped vocals are jointly haunting and groovy. That unsettling-though not unpleasant-tone is impressively consistent, from the nostalgic spoken word passage "Canaan" to the cozy pulses and looped coos of the climactic "Hounded," a collaboration with Exitmusic's Aleksa Palladino. (An out-of-place, almost danceable track, "Align," is the album's only up-tempo number.) With a gift for mood-altering ambience, Mister Lies sets himself apart from much of his electronic music brethren. Don't be deterred by the gloominess: Mowgli's darkness will find ways to draw you in. (www.misterlies.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
Average reader rating: 7/10