L.A. life was good to Natalie Madison, Samson SunEyes and Rafael Michael, who all grew up on the golden coast, three souls privileged musically, geographically, and soon to meet for what would be a catalyst on their industry journey. They all collaborated on a Hollywood movie soundtrack and from what they heard and experienced between themselves during recording sessions, they knew it was meant to be. The three musicians formed Muscle Mass in 2010. Their debut album, House Of Mirrors, is a showcase of musical motifs that strike the most strongly toward a post rock/dance vibe. These individuals are interesting creatures, full of different styles of writing and concept framing.
“Savior” carries a warbling eerie synth that creates tension and pressure, never ceasing. Natalie’s vocals mimic the strange quality of sound, straying from open vowels and grabbing hard consonants. It’s a creepy fun song that explores longing and delusion. My favorite on the album by far is “Know Your Limits.” It exudes this strength and assurance not unlike a movie theme would. The melody sits nicely in melodic minor scale before wandering into an esoteric idea that loses control and returns back to the introductory progression. It’s a sexy ride full of the slick and strange.
“I Want More” sounds the campiest, but it’s a strong effort. The opening lines pose questions about dogs, heaven and monkey brains. So there’s that. This track reminds me of Garbage’s “Special” with the soothing chorus and all- around polished edge. Muscle Mass just had to end the album on a weird note. Unsettling calliope open “R gods” soon joined by distortedly low vocals that sound like a demented carnival host. There’s a brief passage of song where Madison sweetly breathes cool tones amidst airy chords, but it’s pretty much over before it begins.
In a limited lens, Muscle Mass might not make the cut. Listeners need to open their minds to new kinds of composition, not like the formula we’re trained to anticipate. When I use words like weird or strange, it’s synonymous with refreshing and new. These aren’t to be assumed at all negatively, but rather to draw attention to the unfamiliar because that’s where we progress as musicians. Taking what’s odd at first, and somehow making it commonplace.
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