Back in February I finally got to see The Myrrors live, and what an experience that was. I was totally mesmerised by their meditative take on desert psych, and felt immersed in the Arizona landscape from which the band hail. This should not come as a surprise given the the run of albums that they have put out, most notably last year’s ‘Hasta La Victoria‘, which I thought took them to another level. It was at the gig that I found out that the band had recorded a Fuzz Club Session down in London, and have been excited for that release ever since. Then, on top of that came the news that The Myrrors also have a new album coming out on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, entitled ‘Borderlands’. I’ve heard both now and my excitement had grown further, here’s why.
Fuzz Club Session
The Session consists of three tracks and, as with all Fuzz Club Sessions, is recorded beautifully with The Myrrors natural warmth being intensified by the analogue equipment that is usually used in these sessions. This really is a wonderful encapsulation of The Myrrors sound, and really takes me back to Manchester in February when I saw them live.
The first of the three tracks is ‘Juanito Laguna Duerme Con Los Grillos’ which is from the band’s excellent ‘Arena Negra‘ album, which has a special place in my heart because it was the first Myrrors album that I heard, and when I reviewed it back in 2015 I commented:
It is a beautifully spiritual and meditative work which, during the instrumental second half has an amazing momentum and builds up such a fantastic head of steam that…you never…ever…want it to stop. Yet stop it does, reaching some form of resolution; but in a way this hardly matters because the journey itself has been so amazing.
…and that is still the case for me listening to The Myrrors. Just let them take you away on that journey and they will reward you many times over. Here ‘Juanito Laguna Duerme Con Los Grillos’ starts ever so slowly and gently, it is so fragile to start with you feel it could break at any moment. The preciseness of the playing immediately makes you forget that this is a live session because you are instantly into the picture that the band are painting. Then when the almost whispered lyric kicks in you are just away, only two minutes in and you might as well be thousands of miles away from home. A desertified transportation of utter delight, sorry I’m stopping writing now because I just want to listen to this… stunning!
After that I am well and truly in the zone for ‘Semillas Sembradas’, which was originally a single that was part of a package with an edition the brilliant Optical Sounds Fanzine. Like the previous track this is a real slow burner with a lugubrious beat that just cries out heat as you feel the desert sun beating down on you body, and the vocal calls in a plaintiff manner in a way that feels both cathartic and deeply spiritual. This is what you come back to time again with The Myrrors, the juxtaposition of the music’s sense of place with its sheer otherworldliness. If it is anything in the desert it is the heat haze, opaque and yet visually and psychologically distorting… get inside it and it is so rewarding.
The third, final, and longest track ‘Note From The Underground’, also appears on ‘Borderlands’ which I’m reviewing below. I am listening to just the session version here, and if the even longer album version is anything near as good as this I am in for a real treat in around an hour’s time. That’s because THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE MONSTER!. I mean wow this just bangs straight into its drone groove and it just stays there… totally solid… for nearly fifteen minutes… and never wavers… just keeps on going… and going… and going; with strings and guitars swirling around that central column of sound. A column of colossal proportions daring you to engage with it and wonder at it’s sheer beauty until it finished leaving you in a total abyss of silence. Did I say wow!?
This, then, is one special session that combines excellent playing with really cool production providing a set that is clear and cogent, yet also strung out and utterly beguiling. As such I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Available now from Fuzz Club Records here.
If you see The Myrrors as the dust-caked disciples of a specific strain of desert-drone mysticism, there’s little on “Borderlands”, their fourth full-length Myrrors album released in as many years, to dissuade you from that vision. Instead, there’s only confirmation—an intoxicating combination of outlook and output that clarifies and crystallizes the band’s many sonic strengths throughout the album’s fantastically unfolding forty-plus minutes.
So goes the press release for the album, and this is right. There is that unique feel once again, The Myrrors transmitting their own unique blend of music that does all the things that I have said in the review of the Fuzz Club Session above. But, I would argue, it is sometimes easy to fall into regular ideas of what bands are like, particularly if they retain… or at least appear to retain… a certain style. There is more to each release than the atmosphere, powerful though it is.
I have always found it the case that each Myrrors album has it’s own style within that framework, its own feel and its own philosophy, and here the press release is once again helpful:
You can see what you want to see when you stare in to the world of The Myrrors, and to some degree, you can also hear what you want to hear on their expansive, extraordinary new album, “Borderlands” – an album that nominally references the collective boundaries we draw, all the while offering a soundtrack for setting forth strategies that either ignore or erase our self-made barriers.
Be these physical, mental or spiritual barriers; there are means here to break them down, to find new edges or new points of contact. In short, like all Myrrors music, this is an album to sit with and enjoy the sheer contemplative nature of their music and feel fed as a result. But there is also the outward element of feeling emboldened to then turn outwards and engage with the world… a world that seems far from serene and at ease with itself.
It’s then appropriate that the album kicks off with the brief overture ‘Awakening’ that is chaotic and seems to somehow clear the mind before the album clicks into ‘The Blood That Runs The Border’, and straight away we’re in Myrrors country. It’s like a switch is flicked and you’re right there straight away, deep in the interior… and when that violin riff kicks in it is one of those magical moments in music that makes you feel at the same time home and somewhere intensely special. But listen more closely too and the lyrics are passionate, political and meaningful… this is a safe place to be, but don’t get comfortable… this is not the time.
After that ‘Formaciones Rojas’ is a track that constantly feels like it is running away with itself. Where as most Myrrors tracks seem contained within themselves this gives you the feeling of running out of control, of taking you more quickly than you want to go… you are continually trying to catch up… Again the violin playing here is just immense and really forms a central message which I take as being of letting events pull us out of shape and feeling constantly as if we are being taken to places where we don’t want to go… I feel almost strung out listening to is as it gets fast and faster. As a piece of music it is absolutely fantastic but I do get a sense of unease as I struggle to keep up… I don’t remember a Myrrors track quite like this before…
After that I’m hoping for something a little less frenetic with ‘Biznagas’, which is the case. There’s a certain balm to riff that comes in right from the start bringing with it a folk sensibility with Middle Eastern influences. This is a Myrrors track that actually could have appeared on a number of albums in the past and is in one sense reassuringly familiar. It is fair stripped back and simply played which I find reassuring, but again there’s a political message to take away which takes longer to absorb…
‘Call For Unity’, as you may expect from the title, feels very much like a rallying call. A tight melange of sounds that occupy the senses with a prevailing sense of confusion. There’s little clarity here, but a deep sense of reality… of trying to understand what’s going on but being confronted by this mass of words, ideas and images that aims to confuse us and refract our comprehension of the world.
Then comes ‘Note From The Underground’ once again. This time I come to it armed with the knowledge that the title is taken from Dostoevsky’s 1864 novella of the same name “that wordlessly reflects on that book’s less-than-optimistic tone”. I don’t know whether being cognisant of this information makes the track seem darker than the version in the Fuzz Club Session, I’ll probably have to re-visit that (I since have and the two are different in tone as reflected by my comment in both reviews). Nevertheless there does not seem to be another level to this now. It feels bleaker and more oppressive, but retains the relentlessness and the spiritual hope that stop you from falling into some sort of depressive abyss in listening to it. Indeed, as time passes you feel strangely lifted by it. In either version this is a remarkable piece of music, and for me, it is well worth having both versions because… frankly… you are not going to get bored of either of them. Rarely have I heard such an immersive track and any superlative I use to describe it will fall shy of the mark… You’ll just have to listen and find your own.
‘Borderlands’ is yet another amazing album from one of the finest bands currently making music. The Myrrors are a band who delve deep into society, culture, spirituality, psychology and nature… they are a band who continue to progress and find new angles within what is a unique sound… and this can be seen as such. But it is perhaps appropriate that both recordings that I am reviewing here include ‘Note From The Underground’ because it is one of the most remarkable pieces of music that I have heard in recent years… a piece of music that you just have to succumb to…and you need to hear both versions.
‘Borderlands’ is available to pre-order from Beyond Beyond is Beyond here.
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