So they’ve got a name that sounds silly or sinister depending how you say it. They’ve played at Warp Records’ SXSW showcase and collaborated with Tuneyards’ Merril Garbus on their debut album produced by Eli Crews (Deerhoof, WHY?). As an experimental avant-garde band, Mwahaha’s credentials are tight and this release on Plug Research is an expanded re-issue of their debut album.
“The Swimmer” throws the listener in at the deep end with industrial noise, warped synth and psychedelic rock. “Rainbow Diamond” chops and changes before hitting on a pounding chorus about halfway into its eight minute duration. You might miss Merril Garbus’s appearance on “Love”, a chaotic three minutes with Beatlesque refrain: “‘Can you remember to remind me of what I’m supposed to forget so I can see?”
It’s a multi-layered album constantly shifting in mood and sound offering the listener much to explore. It seems at times as if they’re trying to cram two or three songs into one as the instrumental and vocal tracks build up warped by a barrage of effects. The band struggle, however, to distinguish themselves from their influences and constantly fall under the shadow of Can, Pink Floyd and The Flaming Lips.
Drawing on the work of such psychedelic heroes and with so much going on throughout the album they could hardly fail to hit the sweet spot a few times. “We Build” is one of the more coherent songs with smooth synth rhythms and clean vocals. It sounds like Super Furry Animals and Grandaddy jamming on a mountainside. It’s followed by the gnarled guitar and frantic drumming intro of “Rivers and Their Teeth” that is like the soundtrack to a short art-house horror movie. The slow climax of “Bathynomus Gigantes” is an epic culmination to this promising debut. Let’s hope they’ve got something left for the follow up.