Mamiffer The World Unseen Sige
Hi group. My name is Thomas, I’m a music journalist, and I’ve never heard the post-metal band Isis. A grim confession, but it’s true. Have you? Of course you have. Everyone has. Hell, the only piece of Aaron Turner-related ephemera I’ve heard or owned, full stop, is Old Man Gloom’s dainty three-inch CD release, Christmas, probably the single ‘novelty’ release of the man’s oeuvre. It’s sacrilege, I’m a fraud.
Given the financial state of journalism as is, no great shakes. What does twist the knife is that this decade-long Turner ambivalence means that, until four weeks ago, I’d also never heard Mamiffer, the experimental duo he formed with Faith Coloccia in 2007.
Because wouldn’t ya just know it, The World Unseen is good. So good. An opus of expansive, undulating tonal drone and slow- burning, piano-driven elegance, it’s intensely – almost laughably – beautiful in parts, teetering on the edge of widescreen mood-worship without ever slipping over. There’s much to get lost in: take the three-part, defacto album centrepiece Domestication of the Ewe – a 27 minute track that segues through blistering low-end sheet noise, cyclical piano figures flittering tendril-like over smothering washes of densely reverbed guitar and an intricate, multi-tracked choral vocal. Or the buried hymnal that constitutes album closer Parthenogenesis. Or, especially, the crystalline almost-pop of Mara – five and a half of the year’s most superlative minutes, coming on like a more transcendent, effervescent Grouper, if only Liz Harris would drag her Wurlitzer out of the damn woods for a spell. Those are highlights, but it’s telling of the symbiosis in Turner and Coloccia’s writing partnership that they slip seamlessly into the record’s collective suite, drifting by in a twilit haze with no conspicuous lull.
It’s too early to deem it a classic, of course, but the spare, sequential reveal of fresh texture and melody on each listen makes The World Unseen a wholly affective – and deeply satisfying – sonic experience.