ALBUM REVIEW - Medicine Boy - Lower - Post Image - (300x300)ARTIST: Medicine Boy

RELEASE: Lower 

RELEASE DATE: 5th October 2018

RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records 

‘Lower’ is the latest full length release from Berlin-based sonic experimentalists Medicine Boy. Released on the ever boundary pushing Fuzz Club Records, ‘Lower’ hints at the dreamy male/female vocal crossover of bands like Mazzy Star, with an added dose of investigation into the space between notes and chords. Large scale passages sway with minimalistic riffs and keyboard lines, there is the bolster and jagged edged noise-sections and then, here and there, sections wherein the soothingly spacious vocals of either band members are left on their own, floating for the listener to examine carefully. The album was released back on October 5th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now digitally or on lovely vinyl via the good folks over at fuzz club.com and fuzzclub.bandcamp.com respectively.

‘Lower’ opens with ‘Bottom of the Blue’, an extremely sparse but never-the-less interesting and engaging album opener. What sounds to be an organ slowly opens the song, playing a thin piano line before the vocals, greatly complimenting said organ, soothing float into the mix. Eventually, the large scream of feedback and noise flattens out the song; an added touch I greatly appreciated. Almost turning to a primitive sludge-metal sound, the following track ‘Water Girl’ brings forth walls of loud and distorted guitars as well as the shake of cymbal and pounding drums. The vocals remain untouched, singing atmospherically above the hum and grind of the instruments below. ‘Carpels’ brings the instrumentation back to the slow shudder and roll of programmed drums and the textured strum of guitar. Songs like ‘Carpels’ successfully show off the top quality production of Medicine Boy and ‘Lower’ in general: everything is laid out crisply and neatly. ‘Yellow Eyed Radio Blues’ follows much the same way: drums roll slowly along with the strum and hum of instruments… until the second half of the song when an out of key piano chord pushes the song in a new softer direction, making things all the more original and interesting. ‘For the Time Being’ sounds perhaps too crisp and clean, its slow tempo and somewhat ambiguous lyrics and vocal performance float into the background, making it a less than impressive track and perhaps one of the weakest on the release.

‘Diamonds’ returns to the drum and organ type layout heard on ‘Water Girl’ with the occasional spin off into darker, noisier territory. But again, I feel like the song writing pales in comparison to the crisply clean production on the song which somewhat over shadows the darker and spacious qualities of the music because none of it actually sounds dark or noisy enough. ‘One Hundred Bodies’ is a stronger song that comfortably matches the quality of the production, in fact, it highlights it. The slow hum of the vocals fits perfectly with the organ and cymbal backing of the tune. Although it can be easily found on many other songs that feature on ‘Lower’, ‘One Hundred Bodies’ showcases the true power of how both female and male lead vocals fit together; rewardingly, almost like a jigsaw puzzle. Interestingly enough, ‘Lovely Heart’ which can be found on the second half of the album, is by far the most well written, straight forward, beautiful song on the whole thing. It almost disregards everything that Medicine Boy have done on the previous sections of ‘Lower’: there is no noise, there’s no driving drums or slickly strummed guitars. There is only a delicately played piano (something that benefits strongly from the stellar production) and the hum of (assumedly) a violin and a textured soundscape. The lyrics are by far the most engaging and well written, yet most linear, on the entire album.

‘Lower’ is a different kind of album. In a press release, Fuzz Club Records introduced them as ‘noise-pop’ but that the band were less concerned about the ‘noise’ than the spatial passages of sound in-between notes. This is true, but I feel like the aforementioned classification of the band as ‘noise-pop’ encapsulates what the album is trying to be. There isn’t anything too experimental, noisy or generally definitive (in an originality sense) about ‘Lower’ that much at all. The first track grabs ones attention with its bizarre organ lines and then a section of blasting noise, but beyond that, the album is simply a collection of almost over-produced alternative rock and songs with no real defiant sound. Several songs come off as though they are extravagantly produced demos; the lyrics are sort of … ‘there’? and the music never moves into an area considered substantial. The album certainly has positives though, especially in songs like ‘Lovely Heart’ and ‘Bottom of the Blue’ and the production, with its extremely precise mixing and stellar, crisp sound.

4/5

LINKS:

medicineboy.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/gimmeyourmedicineboy

fuzzclub.bandcamp.com

fuzzclub.com 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Cam Phillips - Contributing Writer

Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.