Shaking Hands with Savages

Indie. Passion. Art. Music.

Music Review Monday: Who’s Masquerade [Debut LP]

Who's Masquerade

Who’s Masquerade

Different, just let that word sink in a bit; the subtle tonal exchanges between vowels and consonants acting together in order to convey a sense of  dissimblance. It can refer to two objects and construct a compare/contrast relationship, or it can be used tactfully to convey  the feeling that while something may not lie within your particular range of taste, it may ultimately appeal to some. In the case of Who’s Maquerade’s self titled LP;  the usage of  “difference” is the latter definition.

This album was an enterprising endeavor, and it oozes of hard work, effort, and genuine talent. According to Hayden himself on his bandcamp; the album took over two years to create, and not without its fair share of roadblocks along the way. And it is in this earnestness that the album truly shines it feels like an uncompromising, unflinching view of an artist in turmoil. Who’s Masquerade is an album chock full of emotion and grit, and the album basically tells the tale of a life, from birth to death . However, this harrowing tale is not told or even painted in a neat or pretty manner; some artist would tell a story like this utilizing a more sterile and aesthetically pleasing approach, not Hayden. The music is dark, atonal, jarring, and a bit on the unpolished side. For the most part the songs consist of a traditional acoustic  guitar played in an unconventional  and unstructured manner. There is a fair bit of mixing going on, and other computer/digital effects are  used to create an atmosphere. The effort is not completely solo as a bevy of  instruments to are used to back-up Hayden’s oft bleak, spoken, impassioned lyrics. And Hayden does a great job of creating space within the songs, and this use of  minimalism works well on an album such as this.

If you are confused right now you should be because this album has me in two different places . On one hand  the music is hard to truly enjoy as it is both bleak and jarring, and yet on the other hand the ability that Hayden has in creating an encompassing and consistent composition is pretty impressive.  The album will affect you in an emotional sense, and on an artistic level that is definitely considered a “mission complete,” but on a consumption level the album leaves a lot to be desired. At points its hard to understand what is being said as Hayden speaks very softly, and the sound quality varies; at other points the abstractness of the record did feel a bit forced. In all truth, this passion product feels a bit like something the artist needed to make for himself, and then later on decided to release it. For the audience this is good and bad; the good is we get an honest warts and all approach to the creation of a work. On the other hand the “warts and all”  perspective might not appeal to everyone. Frequently throughout the albums duration I kept on thinking of  Kayo Dot and Tom Waits; the reason being is these two artists are divisive, you either love them and their weirdness, or hate them for it. Maybe it’s me but I don’t find the recordings of a man’s lifelong battle with Bronchitis to be that great but who am I? But on the other hand Kayo Dot frequently makes stunning but  rather inaccessible music.

I’d say this falls somewhere between music to bury your favorite pet to, and something Trent Reznor would play as he draws his bath water. I have yet to call anything objectively bad, and I’m not going to start now, unless we are referring to that form of sonic dysentery that Skrillex has been parading around and calling music for the last 2 years (he really needs to do something about the whole emo-pornstar haircut). The reason I won’t call this music bad is because I believe that  “bad” is too subjective of a feeling; not all art is meant to be pleasant. If you have ever watched a war  film, then the feelings of solemn that sticks with you after you leave the theater tends to be coupled with a renewed vigor for life, and an appreciation on the part of those who sacrificed themselves. Or think of one of Picasso’s most famous paintings Guernica; the piece does not evoke pleasant emotions at all, yet it is one of the most celebrated paintings ever and oddly beautiful in its own right. This is how we must view art at times: in a binary sense. And that is how I feel about Who’s Masquerade, which is why even though it’s a tough listen I think it still should be heard, and only then can the listener decided if the album is worth their time.

**NOTE**To keep with the  theme of dueling sentiments I decided to base my final score on several criteria. The first one being enjoyability/listenability (not a word) , for which the album gets a 2.0 . The second criteria being artistic value or the ability this work has to affect you on an emotional level, for which the album gets a  4.5 . Finally it gets an extra 2.0 for sheer weirdness and inventiveness.

Overall Score : 2.75/5

Favorite Tracks : Death’s Best Friend , Predictions, Colossal Youth, Part 1

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2013 by in Music Review and tagged , , .


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