Halaska, Mayantology

Halaska, <em>Mayantology</em>

So, have you ever wondered what the hell it’d sound like if you were to somehow crossbreed Frank Zappa, Austin instro-rock dudes Explosions in the Sky, and Menomena? Well, I make no guarantees, but it just might sound like Halaska’s Mayantology.

The Austin band dives headlong into the whole prog-pop realm (which seems to be growing by leaps and bounds lately), and they do it with aplomb, managing to show off some stunning musicianship while never getting pedantic or “hey, look at what I can do!” They’re playful at times, to be sure, particularly at the start of “C3 Presents” and “Buyer’s Remorse Code,” but there’s still a heavily cerebral feel to it all, like the members of the quartet are intentionally, deliberately doing everything exactly the way they want it.

The aforementioned “C3 Presents” is an intriguing shot across the bow, heavy on the slap-bass with stuttering, occasionally dub-like rhythms, and while it begins with these almost “childish”-sounding melodies, it quickly surges sideways and gets very dark and brooding. “Brian Emo” follows a similar path, busily melodic and intricate like the best tracks by Caddywhompus or Sunrise and Ammunition, while “Placentaur” is quieter and more thoughtful as a whole.

“Buyer’s Remorse Code” takes the complex, layered thing to extremes, with the initial fingersnaps and la-la-la backing vocals eventually getting buried beneath all the instruments until the whole thing collapses completely into a mess of spazzy noise (and no, that’s not a bad thing). “Nicotine Wolf” is all over the place, too, skittering and quasi-funky and noisy but somehow still holding tightly together; the guitar lines are noodly and warbly, snaking in and out of one another at a pace that’ll make your head spin.

Title track “Mayantology” is complex but burly and muscular, reminding me of nothing so much as Fugazi or The Jonx, and then “Secret Stuff” ambles along for a bit before it revs up to a speed-stagger, achieving its full velocity right at the distorted guitars come roaring through. And on the Zappa end of things, there’s “Ray’s in the Bar,” which is all snark and strangeness and nonchalantly flawless musical skill.

Mayantology closes out with the awesomely-named “Manifest Dentistry,” which is a chiming, shimmering, stomping chunk of prog-rock badassery, one that it feels like the Halaska guys have been building up to all along. It’s heavy and fast and complicated, and just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, it shifts into something else, always remaining just out of reach.

[Halaska is playing 9/5/13 at the Avant Garden.]
(self-released; Halaska -- http://www.halaskaband.com/; Halaska (Facebook) -- https://www.facebook.com/Halaskaband; Halaska (Twitter) -- https://twitter.com/Halaskaband)
BUY ME: Bandcamp

Review by . Review posted Thursday, September 5th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Halaska, Mayantology

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Bun B & Houston Symphony + Mike Doughty + The Head and the Heart + Henry Kaiser + Polica + SCENE FEST II + More on November 14th, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    […] Avant Garden, and after falling head-over-heels for this summer’s Mayantology (see the review here), I couldn’t pass up mentioning it. These guys do an astounding, refreshingly different kind […]

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