Sunday, April 26, 2015

EP Review: Front Lines by Masks We Made - Beautiful, Cathartic Sonic Landscapes

When you think about why certain kinds of music appeals to you it can open up a personal can of worms. For some of us, music is no more than background noise that helps pass time. For others it may primarily be beats and sound, passion percussion that fuels movement and dance and for others, songs may push deep emotional buttons.

And sometimes music acts as sonic Rorschach tests that we cast our own emotions, our own situations onto, good and bad. Sounds that truly help get us get through life's trials and tribulations.

Mask We Made out of Long Beach, California create atmospheric songs that feel so laced with emotion that you are immediately engaged and their latest 3 track EP "Front Lines" will take you places. The seriously somber tone of  of the title track built on some truly pretty (yet starkly dark) guitar lines sweep around you dramatically. When Andrea's vocals come in the tone is set in stone and the song feels like a monument to fallen soldiers whether the battle field imagery is metaphorical or not. I forgot to mention that Masks We Made are just a two piece band even though they do sound like more (even live). Nando's guitar work superbly sets moods a plenty. He uses his well crafted and emotionally wrought guitar lines as more of a set rhythm section than traditional leads and build a tapestry of accompaniment that perfectly offsets Andrea's poetry and evocative vocals.

 Speaking of her vocals, the character of her vocal delivery feels strong and her words feel firmly (almost stoically) placed. Rusty Hinges almost feels like a indie folk protest song. There is a late 60's retro edge almost. I thought of the iconic folk singer / songwriter Joan Baez who meant so much to my older sister. Andrea does not sound like her but there is a serious tone to her vocal sound, an emotional gravitas that is so heavy and present in Rusty Hinges with it's beautifully sad warm embrace. The first track, Hands Race, kind of rides on the rails. It has dashes of wanderlust and folk Americana. It feels wide and expansive.

"Front Lines", as my own personal introduction to Masks We Made, is a powerful one. Andrea and Nando paint moving sonic landscapes that are easy to embrace, easy to feel deep down inside because they are beautiful and cathartic at the same time.

Robb Donker

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