Mahogany: Connectivity!

After a five-year gap, Brooklyn octet Mahogany returns with its second full-length Connectivity!, a cathedralesque collection of dazzling dreampop that merges the celestial shoegaze pop of Cocteau Twins with the retro-future-lounge style of Stereolab and energized bass and drum attack of New Order. A Spector-like ‘Wall of Sound' production style amplifies Mahogany's already gargantuan sound to an even higher galaxial plane. Teeming with softly-chanted male and female vocals, chiming pianos, and anthemic wail, a given song moves at light speed before abruptly exiting three minutes later. “One Plus One Equals Three or More” exemplifies the vibrant character of the album's arrangements, as voices struggle to be heard over a glorious din of handclaps, glockenspiels, and crystalline guitars. In “Renovo,” waves of strings and muffled horns evoke an almost classical feel until a delicate Julee Cruise-styled voice enters, lulling the listener into a trance with equally ethereal lyrics (“Can you find the edge / Of this vast and complex land? / Even then, it won't compare / To our strange and mental sands”). The hazy psychedelia of “My Bed is My Castle,” on the other hand, tends to camouflage the unsettling portrait of a reclusive agoraphobic (“Oh Joie, don't you know she self-maligns / She dreams of suicide / And all the different ways to hide in curtained rooms”). In the paradisiacal closer “Springtime, Save Our Country,” female vocals arc over tribal trance before a magnificent coda exits with the hopeful thought “In time, the blight will subside.” All this plus a bonus CD containing alternate mixes of three songs (an extended “Supervitesse,” “My Bed is My Castle,” featuring the vocal debut of Lucy Belle Guthrie, the daughter of Cocteau Twins Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Frazier, and “Domino Ladder Beta” which adds epic Valhalla guitar by Robin Guthrie) and three videos (“Supervitesse,” “Neo-plastic Boogie-woogie,” “One Plus One Equals Three or More”).

January 2007