Mamiffer: Hirror Enniffer
Hydra Head

Mamiffer is a new, Seattle-based band headed up by pianist and former Everlovely Lightningheart member Faith Coloccia who's joined on the thirty-five-minute debut by drummer Chris Common, Brian Cook, Ryan Frederiksen (all members of These Arms Are Snakes), Aaron Turner (ISIS), and Annie Hozoi Matheson-Margullis (Helms Alee, Lozen). Having given its first proper public performance in July 2008 at Chicago's the French Electric Company, the group's obviously fresh out of the gate but sounds full of promise on the six songs constituting the suite-like Hirror Enniffer. With Coloccia's piano the nucleus, the collective stitches field recordings, organs, cellos, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, violin, bells, and assorted percussive instruments into long-form instrumentals filled with dramatic peaks and valleys that have as much, if not more, to do with prog than post-rock.

Martial drumming and funereal piano melodies march despondently into battle in the opening “This Land” though the bright ping of a glockenspiel offers some hint of hope. Grungy guitar snarl murmuring in the background is offset by the radiant presence of female voices. The scorched guitar- and organ-fueled drone “Death Shawl” reveals Mamiffer's allegiance to the metal-drone genre before “Annwn” nods to classical music in its cello-and-piano duet and subsequent piano trills (a brief echo of Tubular Bells even surfaces in one of the piano themes). Though the fierce, full-band attack gives the piece its aggressive punch, “Annwn” also provides a compelling argument for Coloccia's playing ability. That attack escalates to torrential proportions during “Black Running Water” where Mamiffer's prog roots most clearly show in the Fripp-styled guitar playing that soars over the rhythm section's heavy plod.

Some listeners might find Mamiffer's sound to be a bit bombastic and, in truth, it would be hard to argue the point. The group's ultra-dramatic side is definitely manifested in the album's six compositions and perhaps most strongly in the nearly eight-minute “Suckling A Dead Litter.” Even so, the band's largely acoustic approach to its music is refreshing and so too is its attempt to weave prog-styled compositional drama into its instrumental rock universe. And, after all, at this stage any group attempting to bring a new twist to the post-rock genre is welcome indeed.

November 2008