French band, Mozermilk, sent me their CD in the mail a few weeks ago. They call themselves experimental, post-rock. It came with a hand drawn sticker depicting a young woman with her throat slit. Of course I immediately slapped it on my water bottle unafraid of judgement. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the group from their newest album, Earthly Ecstasy. I had listened to a few of their songs before but delving into a full length in the experimental genre seemed like a daunting task.
After a few listens, I started to break down Mozermilk's sound. I could hear a little bit of Television Personalities, The Cure, Joy Division and...is that old school hip-hop? It's an eclectic mix for a post-rock band, and it works really well. Earthly Ecstasy challenges the listener, but it's equally as rewarding as it is ethereal. I couldn't listen to it just once. I had to keep pulling it a part. Deciphering the lyrics, identifying the minuscule sounds –– it was an exercise.
Beyond minimalist post-rock, a delicate and lyrical speaking voice give the songs meat. She asks questions, the kind that make you wonder them along with her. Like in "The Happy Prince" she asks, "Is the meaning of life meant to be found in love?" The sparse guitar answers with a methodical response, but not an answer. That's what I like about this music, it's more about the journey of the listening experience than creating a catchy song.
Sometimes experimental, intellectual music can be too heady. Yet Mozermilk stay grounded through their collection of odd sounds and heavy guitar riffs. It's not for everyone, but it's worth a serious try. Once you get over preconceived notions of spoken word, beat knick music, it can be educational. And it's only about half an hour.
The lyrics are more like personal narratives, a frozen moment in time or a stream of consciousness. A theme of confusion and uncertainty drift through the album, and the instruments portray that feeling. The guitar parallels the questions in a solid acceptance of unknowing. The beat portrays confusion. Earthly Ecstasy is a deep understanding of not understanding. Mozermilk try to communicate their little slice of life to see if anyone else feels the same way.
In "Bubbling Water' you can picture the place. It's a cold day on a bridge somewhere in France. It's sunset –– you just woke up and you're recalling the decisions you made last night, week, year. But the sun gives you a little bit of warmth and the flowing of the water gives you a sense of pride and contentment. That might be nothing what Mozermilk is trying to communicate, but being able to incite visuals like that is a feat in itself.
The album transitions from calm, almost spiritual melodies into club, ecstasy beats. Then it sits somewhere in between. It could play at an underground nightclub or out of earbuds walking down the street. Versatility is something Mozermilk has. It's not particularly accessible but I don't think that's the goal.
It's one long meditation in the thoughts of the musicians. It's not just about the lyricist, it's about the precise moment the song embodies. It's about describing and pulling people into a meditation of that moment–with a little flavor of old school hip-hop.
Listen to six tracks from their album: