Mist: House Review
I have been on a pretty intense ambient/synth kick lately, which makes it hard to find the words to accurately describe when one record seems to stand out above the others in a genre that really has a lot of overlap. The honest truth is that the difference between a really good record in this field and a substandard one is often not a lot and can lead to a lot of mediocre stuff being promoted, making it difficult to really separate the good from the great. All of that being said, I am here to put my “this is a really amazing record” stamp of the most recent LP House from Mist, which dropped earlier this year on the always excellent Spectrum Spools record label (which is a subsidiary of the equally excellent Editions Mego label). It isn’t surprising that this album is so great considering the pedigree of the two players behind the group. Sam Goldberg and John Elliott are head synth voyagers in Radio People and Emeralds, respectively, and anyone with background in this genre knows that these are two of the most commanding and innovative bands around right now peddling ambient synth jams.
From the opening bars of the stuttering synths the lead “Twin Lanes” out of the gate, the record is a commanding and deep collection of songs that stretch out over the better part of an hour. The songs find a way to take the groups pretty straightforward musical composition (synths and other various electronic instruments) and distill that sound in various ways. “I Can still hear your voice” is a lush synth opus, while “Mist House” is a darker, edgier composition that would fit well sound tracking a film noir movie. After the grandiose organ elegance of “Daydream,” the record closes out with two tracks that are longer, more involved and more engrossing than most entire albums by bands. “Dead Occasions/Ovary Stunts” is a nearly 13 minute song that vamps from subtle and soothing synth patterns and ratchets up the notch over the songs lifespan. The emotional dexterity, from the mollifying intro to the bridge over the first few minutes to the ramp up and sonic explosion at the five minute mark and the increased tension over the back half of the record, the song feels more like a 12” single than simply a standalone track on an album. In the same fashion, although not as fully realized, is the album closer “P.M,” which is another 12+ minute jam that encompasses more changes and emotional complexity than many bands fit into an entire LP.
Mist is a side project of guys with amazing “day job” bands, so one could expect that they would bring something akin to their “B” game to House, but that could not be further from the truth. House is a powerful, enthralling collection of songs that show off the best of what the ambient synth sound have to offer. While there seems to be a resurgence in the ambient synth genre and I am as guilty as anyone of mixtaking “good” for “great,” House is easily one of the, if not the, most commanding albums from this, or any, genre that has dropped in the last 12 months.