Mender – The Subtle Sting Of Change
Ashley West-Mullen is something of a musical Jekyll & Hyde. By night he is a beast of a drummer, the powerhouse that drives the incredible math rock of Alright The Captain. By day however, Ash’s more introspective side comes out in the form of Mender.
Two EPs have laid the groundwork for this debut album; both of which were heavy on the glitchy electronica and trip hop beats, almost post Dubstep, if that’s even a thing. ‘The Subtle Sting Of Change’ is a slightly different animal. Here Ash’s voice and guitar are way out front and centre. The electronica is still very much present but rather than being the focus on this record it sets the backdrop, the platform to a series of melancholic, beautiful songs bringing to mind the offbeat pastoral work of Tuung and some of Four Tet’s quieter moments.
The theme that runs throughout the record is change itself, reflected in the shift of style, particularly personal changes that have happened in Ash’s life; marriage, fatherhood and becoming a teacher
But it’s not just about change. It’s also about the constant. The fact that he is still himself despite the roles he takes on in life, and the music moves through change yet retains its sonic motifs and develops rather than deforms.
Tracks like opener ‘Plough The Tide’ and ‘Call It Blood’, with its almost drum and bass beat underpinning it, stand out and offer something very different to the standard singer / songwriter form. The album has the rhythmic diversity that you would expect from so talented a drummer but has an emotional depth that is so often absent from other drummer side projects.
‘The Subtle Sting Of Change’ is the sound of an artist looking deep within and finding music there. It’s a beautiful expression of a life and a man being honest with himself and evaluating where his is in life. A recommended listen.
Available now as a pay what you like download on Bandcamp
Posted by Dan
Tags: album review, Alright The Captain, Bandcamp, Dan, Mender