Mind of a Squid – Down Low

Mind of a Squid
Down Low

Strap on your helmets folks, we’re heading for deep space with the first release from Mind of a Squid, Canucks who cross the desserts of Mars on horses stolen from Sergio Leonne. Bowie’s been pushed out of the landing craft sometime just past the moon for stealing eye liner and other’s careers, and instead we have a band of chevaliers mixing their own soundtrack. It’s dark, yet oddly warm, stealthily creeping its way across the aural surface, until it creates merry havoc on your sound system. Well, as merry as a squid can get I guess.
Though only a four-piece and mostly instrumental, MoaS have a distinctly full sound, well-toned in spite of the band forming from a series of improvisational jams. Like countrymen All I See is Red, they’ve harnessed a particular blend of sonic territory expanded by GSYBE and mixed it with a particular – some might say peculiar – sauce of spaghetti western soundtracks and space rock atmospherics. Although the guitar work of Erik Culp and Scott Bucsis tend to be fore grounded, when the drums of Blas Melissari and the vocal architecture of Marina Adam is sequenced out, layer upon layer, the palpable air of confrontation, of tension desiring resolution, blows across their cratered landscape.
Track six, “The March of Jordan,” is the song that really works, bringing together loops, drones, and squelches over the top of a slaughtered, echo-laden two-note guitar “strangalang,” before loading up with the eerie vocal chorus that only appears when someone is about to be shot. It’s careful and cunning, inserting variations before repetition becomes obnoxious, stray notes ricocheting away into the background. Then a military tattoo beat heralds a guitar-led sodomy, vicious and violent, before seeping back, only to be repeated several bars on. As the bloodstains slide down the saloon wall, the leftover ambient drizzle reminds us that this was how the West was/has won.
Clocking in at just over an hour with 11 tracks, Down Low is a journey of spaces defiled, where signs of life and death are imprinted on the landscape around us. Mind of a Squid may have a very silly name, but this album is anything but.