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Myrrh - Myrrh

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Artist: Myrrh

Album: Myrrh

Label: Soft Abuse

Review date: Aug. 16, 2012

With a cover photograph of a desert canyon overshadowed by a massive arch of rock, and a promise of viola and drum dirges, Myrrh sound like a can’t-lose proposition. The duo of Jackie Beckey and Andie Mazorol originally released these quickly-recorded tracks on cassette, now remastered and issued by Soft Abuse on vinyl. Blown-out, blasted dirges leavened with a slight amount of viola melodicism seems on paper like a great concept.

Over eight untitled tracks and 41 minutes, though, Myrrh can’t quite escape the drag of gravity and attain takeoff velocity. From the first, shorter piece the formula is set: slow, plodding drums provide a solid framework for sparsely chiming viola, blasting into cascading fuzz-waves only to drop back to the quieter level and up again.

The set of long pieces repeat this circular path, beginning with a simple repeated melody that’s looped over the drums, locking the rhythm into an unchanging, albeit sometimes-hypnotic, beat. At their best, the waves of distortion can channel the occasional Fushitsusha-esque freakout or Skullflower-ish cosmic exhaust, but each time the fuzz vanishes into smoke and we return to the looped melody it feels like we’ve been there before. The rhythmic pace doesn’t vary, and the songs blur together into one slightly tedious slog.

It’s not until the sixth piece that we get some real variation, and it’s almost worth the wait. At over seven minutes, it’s a long haul, but the duo pull out the Velvet Underground inspiration and achieve a hash-soaked scrape-and-drone, easily the best piece on the album. The inspiration carries into the next track, which opens with the strongest riff yet, and while they should have brought it to an end well short of seven minutes, the crashing cymbals and heavily-fuzzed riffing makes for a fine listen.

There’s a fair amount of potential here, and it’s clear that given more time and attention to focus on the real guts of each piece, Beckey and Mazorol could get some real propulsion happening. But it’s not quite enough to lay down a few repeated notes and switch on the distortion; we want to be taken on a ride that really goes somewhere. Myrrh could take us places if they try. I can tell.

By Mason Jones

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