Compilations / Mixes
On this twenty-eight-minute EP, Mombi (Mom-bee) comes across at times like the imaginary spawn of The Notwist and Benoît Pioulard. The Denver, Colorado-based brainchild of Kael Smith, Matt Herron, and Michael Behrenhausen, Mombi, much like The Notwist, works within a pop template (indie-rock if you prefer) but invigorates it with imaginative ideas and experimental treatments in such a way that an artful yet still accessible brand of pop results. Their sensitivity to song design was no doubt enhanced through the experience of creating their previous Mombi album, The Wounded Beat (Own Records, 2011), in collaboration with Keith Kenniff (Helios, Goldmund), who produced the eight-song set and contributed musically to several tracks. That concern for sonic presentation carries over onto the new release, whose five tracks were recorded and mixed by Alan Weatherhead and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri.
Inaugurating the EP promisingly, the winsome “Deaf Canyon” brings the group's atmospheric guitar-and-keyboards sound into focus and provides a superb showcase for Smith's hushed and affecting vocal delivery. More impressive, however, is “Rain Schadow” for an arresting arrangement that generates bright tinkling patterns from recorded samples of tapped beer glasses and enriches the haunting vocal with synthesizer washes and a pulsating bass line. Smith adopts a Benoît Pioulard-like quiver for the title track, which catches the listener by surprise in surreptitiously building towards a grandiose second half crowned by volcanic guitar roar and heavy drumming. That the EP material was honed and sculpted while playing live is evident in the aggressive attack the band brings to the song, which dwarfs in volume the stripped-down song that follows, “Crane into the Sun.” It's no less effective for being quieter, however, as the song's nylon guitar playing, delicate vocal melodies, and spoken word passage possess an entrancing power all their own. With songs so rich in ideas and imagination, Turning Witch is one of those EPs that makes you eagerly anticipate the full-length that hopefully will soon follow.