Ishmael – “Mention” Review
Posted: by Sean Gonzalez
From the first few seconds of Ishamel’s new EP, Mention, one can hear the talent seeping out of the spastic guitar riffs and complex time signatures. The trio hails from the deep indie scene of New York City, and their music sounds like the city itself in a way. The four songs across this EP never seem to be still but have plenty of atmosphere and ambiance. Mention debuts today through All Sounds, a new record label out of New Jersey.
One moment that sticks showcases the variety of music this band is willing to play can be found on the second track, named ‘Second Troy.’ Starting off with what a very tight jam could create, the song stays relatively calm and easy to follow. The vocals are strong, but not overpowering any of the instruments. All of a sudden the drums focus into a quick build up and then the mood changes. A more distorted and feedback driven guitar tone takes over as Nick Otte screams in desperation “I’ve always wanted you to stay!” It’s over before you know it, but the way it was tastefully blended into the serene opening is nothing short of impressive.
‘Mention’ features a tight knit upbeat progression with the bass groove really adding a whole new dimension to the song. The guitar arpeggios are flying about while the groove seemingly hums along, while the vocals are like a pulse above the music. Towards the song’s end the band picks up a more disgruntled tone with screams echoing the regular sung vocals. At times the way Otte approaches his singing melodies it can be a little monotonous, but the way he incorporates them into music that rarely has a distinct path to follow one motif has to be applauded. This is especially seen on the opening track ‘Eyes Like Mouths,’ which ends with vocals that first sounded like something off City And Colour.
Closing track ‘Tabula Rasa’ is rememberable by the brilliant midsection, with a rather reflective tone that grows into a very moody ending to the EP, featuring an emotional Otte that leads into an echo driven and mournful guitar solo. As the song closes it is well understood what Ishmael can do. Mention is a confident and well composed EP that kept me on my toes the entire time, check out this prog/math/slightly jazz trio today.
Editor’s Note: Just a heads up! Henderson (who runs The Alternative) also manages All Sounds, the label that’s putting out this EP. Sean wrote the review and we tried to avoid any bias, but just wanted to be up front. Enjoy the music!