I had always thought that the djembe was an instrument solely relegated to the living room of a stoned and nude Matthew McConaughey. To the sandal clad college kid; or perhaps set in the corner of some ecologically sound mansion as a decorative gesture of cultural awareness. It’s refreshing to have one’s stereotypes shattered. The Mast’s new album Wild Poppies -and their djembe- did just that.
The ethereal vocals of Haale, whose riffs conjure scenes of panoramic deserts, compliment the unfolding complexity of Matt Kilmer’s poly-rhythmic drumming (using not only the djembe, but also a frame drum a bass drum, a floor tom, and cymbals) and invoke a sort of blooming, colorful landscape of layers, organically grown. I think of a toned down Kills, a hyperactive (or perhaps simply active) Mazzy Star, a straightforward Blonde Redhead. In spite of these comparisons, and in a music world saturated with tuned glossy duos, The Mast has carved out a niche all their own, weaving together a sound both simulated and organic.
Song titles like “The Lake” and “Hummingbird,” and lyrics such as “gold dust of the sun has settled, brightens my mind,” or “rolling over the reeds, rolling over mounds of earth, from my head to feet, oh land, the grand masseuse,” reinforce the earthiness of the sound. Despite the fact that the cover art, a fractal image of poppies grown in the band’s backyard, invites the psychedelic, to label their music as simply psychedelic, electronic or rock/pop would be off the mark. Much like their self-proclaimed symbol, The Mast’s strength lies in its ability to merge the best of all three in symbiotic sound.
The Mast will play THURS, JULY 7, 2011 @ Le Poisson Rouge for the release of their album “Wild Poppies.”
ABOUT MATT MOWATT: Matthew Mowatt is currently working as a freelance editor and English teacher in Paris, France. He’s searching for publishers to accept his first finished novella and in the meantime, he seeks out musicians and writers for entertainment of the inspirational kind. He occasionally contributes to his own fanless blog (fairweather chronicles) when he’s licked by life.