The first I've heard of miRthkon was through their self-released their EP The Illusion Of Joy in 2006, which was a pleasant surprise. Here we have the band's first full length, Vehicle, released through the Italian label Altr0ck, responsible for other wonderful albums by bands such as Yugen and Rational Diet.
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Their brand of avant-rock with jazzy and big-band-like interludes, backed by metal-ish sounding guitars and reed instruments of sorts is a delight to listen to, as they go nuts and move progressively forward in an abstract ?like manner. Listen to Flashbulb of Orgasm and its opening charging assault and you'll get the idea of what's to expect in the next 69 minutes. Listening to this brought to my mind, Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa, Miriodor and Invincible Czars, to give you a rough estimate of what to expect.
The mood is upbeat, cheerful, silly and jolly. They seem to have a great time playing. But that is not to mean this is just a bunch of simplistic songs, not at all. Intricacy and complexity are abundant in their music and composition style. Their mixing of their wacky sense of humour, their lively sounding music and the high level of musicianship and song-writing is remarkable in my opinion.
Humour is prevalent in their music and lyrics. Just go over the lovely booklet with its drawings and weird funny text and read the song titles. The artwork and overall layout are superb and fun to go over as you listen to the album.
The album is quite dense, though rich sounding. But one must be prepared for over an hour-long ride in the miRthkon Vehicle (more like a rollercoaster, in fact). It is in fact an exhausting listen, though a fun one. The sax-lead tracks such as Autmoaton and Zhagunk, are heavy due to the guitars backing up with their crunchy riffs and powerful bass and drums playing. Which is why this can be tiresome at some point. It's the playful nature of tracks like Kharms Way that brings in a deserved relief, though it too is infused with the high level dynamics of the heavy sounding guitars. But the clarinets present a surprising "opposition" to the heavy nature of the music and add a frivolous element to the overall sound, a cheeky yet seriously determined attitude. Daddylonglegz is another example of this lighthearted approach, lead by the reed instruments, with an excellent rhythm section performance (which is true for the rest of the album as well, but here it really shines). The heaviness level here is a little lower, though still very much present and making a strong appearance throughout the track.
Some tracks present a quirky ending, that is mostly unrelated to what happened before and those serve as intermediates between songs, instead of these being separate short tracks the people usually refer to as fillers.
The vocals for some reason remind me of Phish's style in songs where they narrate rather than sing. In the tracks with vocals such as Flashbulb of Orgasm and Coven Of Coyotes, it enhances the open and smooth atmosphere of the music and contraficts the heavy guitar sound.
The mingling of heavy and light elements and instruments here is done efficiently and culminates in an appealing overall sound.
In the end, you feel like you've just mounted off a high-speed and intense rollercoaster and need some time to relax, catch your breath and maybe take a calmer ride now.
One will need several well focused listens to this album to be able to absorb it all and make out all the various tracks which can at times assimilate into one messy insane piece.
I would have added some interludes or arranged the tracks differently as to avoid the dense feeling one can get when listening, for example to the three consecutive tracks like Johnny Yen, Bappsciliophuaega and Trishna. It can get too much at that point. Each track is fun to listen to and is in itself a great piece of music, but together they can succumb an army of barbarians with their sheer intensity levels.
They could have put Honey Key Jamoboree in between them for example, with its groovy and lighter atmosphere and sound and cool guitar solo and even pop-sounding section.
Black Fruit also presents a deviation from the theme that lies in the heart of this album with its lesser intensity and somewhat abstract interlude and noisy guitars. Overall, this shows the variety of miRthkon's output.
It might actually be a good idea to listen to this in parts; divide the album in two and focus on each individually and you'll be able to learn to "operate" this Vehicle quickly.
If you enjoy bands and musicians such as Mr. Bungle, Miriodor, Samla Mammas Manna, Invincible Czars, Calle Debauche, Frank Zappa et al. you should give this a listen.