Mobular by CambrianRelease date: June 21, 2017
Label: Taxi Driver Records
I’ll get straight to the point: if you like your heavy music to ease you into a deep, well-used hammock rather than a pit of despair, then get this album. Because it is awesome. In fact it is the best slow-and-low music I have heard this year. Go buy it, seriously. Go, now.
Still here? Ah. Right. I’d best explain why I like the album so much.
Cambrian’s music is billed as Hawaiian doom, which I bet is a sub-genre you’d never thought you’d read about. And it is heavy, make no mistake. But in addition to being heavy, it boasts a languid quality; the addition of a lapsteel guitar throughout evokes a feeling of staring at a sunset, of easing back with a strong, rum-based cocktail poured into a hollowed-out pineapple… of ukeleles tuned down to B and strumming Monolord songs.
And damn, it is gorgeous. It’s the sort of doom that you listen to when you’re stretched out on the big beanbag; it’s mellow not malevolent. And for all the tropical nods (apart from the lapsteel guitar, the guitar solo in the title track has a wistful charm that is a hallmark of Hawaiian music), the band isn’t even from Hawai’i. In fact the trio are from Italy and all belong to other bands.
They bring qualities from their other outfits to this record: Stefano Parodi, the bass player, brings the vast soundscapes of Vanessa van Basten, Fabio Cuomo the drummer brings a progressive touch that he may have brought from sax-wielding doom-mongers Mope, while Boggio Nattero, the guitarist and vocalist brings RIFFS. Big ones. Like he plays in the death ’n’ roll outfit Carcharadon.
And it fits together like the fruit juice, alcohol and parasols in a Piña Colada.
The album starts in an orthodox doom fashion, with a mammoth ‘here we are’ riff taking up much of ‘Melt’, but it’s the volcanic rumbles at the end which herald something special. And all is revealed in ‘Seaweed Shaman’, which begins with an atmospheric guitar lick, before the riff crashes on us like a wave at Peahi. The steel guitar joins in before ominous, monastic-sounding chants provide the only vocal interlude of the entire album. This pattern continues: the steel guitar returns to weave its magic with a beautiful melody, before another riff-wave lands on our heads. It’s hypnotic.
‘Hooded Mantanaut’ strays back into familiar doom territory, except a beautifully phrased guitar solo rises it way above the norm. Imagine if David Gilmour swapped trudging prog for exultant doom and you’d be close.
The title track is sparse; the guitar and steel guitar weave in and out from each other, giving the listener an ideal soundtrack to diving in coral reefs. And this vibe continues to ‘The Lethargic Hours’, the album’s highlight. The dreamy guitars are bludgeoned out of the way by an enormous yet uplifting riff; one which I could listen lethargically to for hours.
‘Emporer Seamount’ concludes the album and begins with a suitably triumphant riff to befit the title. But then the guitars come in at a higher register and the whole song shimmers – even at its snail’s pace. Sure, it is repetitive, over its nine-minute duration – but that’s the idea. It hypnotises you until you are a jelly-like pool unable to move from the beanbag. And you have a smile on your face as wide as the Hawaiian horizon. But don’t take my word for it: get it for yourself, don an aloha shirt, mix yourself a cocktail and make yourself comfortable.