Mahogany
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Mahogany

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR
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“From an octet to a duo, now, which sees band’s founder Andrew Prinz (inspired musician and graphic designer) and currently Jaclyn Slimm, song Phase Break is a brave 8 mins-long sound journey, mixing their own eclectic chemistry of Factory rec / Section 25-esque danceability and futuristic-symphonic dreampop aesthetic. Synths, cello, drum machine beats, 12 string guitar, sequencer, train and ballet never spoke much each other until this track, I believe.” - Komakino


>> Like Tom Waits, art-pop concern Mahogany keep getting weirder while staying the same (to whit, Wikipedia describes the once-octet thusly: "an electric music-based multidisciplinary media ensemble currently working in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and other locations"). After only faint rumors and dead-ends in regards to the follow-up to their massive, brilliant and still misunderstood 2006 album Connectivity!, the band has finally released a new song. And it's a doozy, too. "Phase Break" is an eight-minute cycle of beats, choruses, and synths that incorporates elements of house music and disco into Mahogany's purposefully modernist, architectural dream-pop. As with "Leo Ryan (Our Pharoah's Slave)" by this blog's beloved Lilys, Mahogany synthesize myriad ideas and carefully constructed sounds into a full-blown mini-suite that plays as much as a mediation and art project regarding a beloved form as it does a coherent piece of music. That, however, is exactly what will likely please patient fans of the Mahogany cult; arguably anyone that fully understands where this band is coming from will appreciate the continued and pronounced proclivity for pop eccentricity. The group -- here just the duo of Jaclyn Slimm and founder Andrew Prinz -- fuses elements of Cocteau Twins bass-chord groove with every manner of analog drum patches, pristine cello work and Ms. Slimm's elegant vocals. At the two-minute mark, the song takes the first of many turns as a funk bass line enters; later, Mr. Prinz's familiar vocals announce the delightful "phase break" chorus. Additional playful twists ensue and exhaust in due course their saturated and crafty intentions, allowing "Phase Break" to meet the lofty expectations of fans who've been waiting on a sign from Mahogany. Incorporating elements of dance music will hopefully win Mahogany an even larger share of fans, although it is the complicated joys of its non-traditional compositions that should really wow admirers. We are eager to hear and see what magic the band conjures next. -- Edward Charlton - Clicky Clicky


Who names a genre "shoegazer"? History tells us that some British journalist coined the phrase because the genre's early bands were more inclined to stare at the floor than to make eye contact with the audience. This was likely caused equally by years of torment from their schoolmates and the insane amounts of heroin they were on. Of course, that's just how it used to be done. These days, shoegazers are more likely just entranced by the rad bowling shoes they rescued from a thrift-store bargain bin. But really, who names a genre "shoegazer"?

Now in its 16th year (it's widely agreed that the shoegazing big bang occurred with the Jesus and Mary Chain's 1985 debut, Psychocandy), the genre's undergone some intense facial reconstruction. The self-pitying gloom has been switched with sunshine, the sunglasses-at-night were exchanged for love, and the band that started it all dropped a few members and regrouped as Freeheat. Yet, like the vampires that so inspired those early bands, the alabaster face of the genre remains untouched by the ravages of time.

The New York (by way of Michigan) trio Mahogany have found a common ground where old and new shoegazer fans can live together in both suicidal misery and perpetual contentedness. It's called The Dream of a Modern Day. The record blends the downcast, dreamy sounds of early Lush and the Cocteau Twins with optimistic string sections, subtle drum programming and the sunny vocals of singer/cellist Allysa Massais.

Originally released on Clairecords in late 2000, the record has just been freshly reissued with the Darla label's spiky stamp of authenticity. As it should be. Mahogany are a Darla band all the way, from the whirring U of MBV guitars to band founder Andrew Prinz's dense, reverb-laden production. But where so many other xFC-shoegazer groups are content to pile layer upon layer of effects and instruments on their DATs and bask in the white-noise result, Mahogany have clearly spent hours behind the mixing board, perfecting the levels for a glimmering sheen that reflects both the dirtier elements of 80's bliss-out and Dave Fridmann's recent work with Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips.

The Dream of a Modern Day begins with "Movement I," a half-minute clip of a droning string quartet that's unexpectedly interrupted by the "Copacabana"-style drum programming that opens the album's first song, the beautiful "Chance." Prinz's production immediately impresses as the song bursts outward, spewing ride cymbals, glowing strings, and jangly guitar. Massais' graceful, silky vocals effortlessly ricochet up and down the musical register, intoning unintelligible lyrics delivered as though they were crammed with infinite wisdom.

Elsewhere, "Soleil Radieux" fires off rounds of complex machine-gun percussion which are absorbed by a thick velvet curtain of orchestration; the ethereal "Vista-dome" pairs pounding kickdrums and showering cymbals with a mournful, ghostly melody and a downpour of violins; the stark "Red Marrow, His Sorrow" is stripped to its rawest form, with only a shimmering, repeated guitar line and Massais whispering, "It's the marrow deep red/ It's the soil richly black/ It's the winter sun bleak white/ Inside of your coat warm gray." But the biggest surprise comes with the closer, "Synchromie No. 1." Slickly automated thumps gradually give way to crashing drums and crescendoing, kaleidoscopic symphonies while guitars submerge themselves in a drony netherworld. When the track's lush bombardment of beauty winds down, and the disc stops spinning with a final whir, the silence is somewhat unsettling.

The Dream of a Modern Day would be a pretty outstanding record, even if created by the hands of seasoned studio vets. That only a small handful of EPs precede this band's debut full-length is seriously cool, and seems to promise great things for their future. If you've worn down the grooves on your old Catherine Wheel and Curve records and are looking for something more current, I point you in the direction of this fine album and suggest you become transfixed by a pair of cheap sneakers.
- Ryan Schreiber, December 31, 1999 - Pitchfork


My first experience with Mahogany occurred in a loft in Boston's Chinatown. The space was used mainly for showings of independent short films and the band played on the floor with projections behind them, filling the room with their dense, rippling waves of what they refer to as "massed guitar, violoncelli, voice & electronics." The moment I remember best was when the band built a monumental drone around a single chord while an image of white metal beams slowly shifted behind them. As the image moved, the texture of the drones shifted, and finally it became clear that the footage was shot on a Ferris wheel, with the camera initially aimed at the direct center of the wheel to create an almost abstract visual. It was an audio-visual feast, to say the least.

On record, Mahogany aren't exactly prolific, having released just one full-length in nearly 10 years as a band, but they've turned out a couple more albums' worth of scattered tracks on EPs, split 7"'s, and compilations in that time, which is the stuff Memory Column focuses on over the course of its two discs. Disc One is subtitled "Song Cycle No. 1 for Rural Michigan", and the implication is that its 10 songs, recorded from 1996 to 1999, were intended to form a unified body of work, a promise that actually bears itself out pretty well. Disc Two, subtitled "Song Cycle No. 2 for Detroit & New York", gathers music from 1999 to 2004 and covers the period during which they relocated from the Motor City to NYC. Generally speaking, these arrangements are more intricate and varied than those on the first disc.

Mahogany's music falls broadly into the part of the dream-pop spectrum that emphasizes the dream over the pop, placing them in a similar space with Surface of Ecion, Landing, and Auburn Lull, with whom Mahogany's most-tenured member, Andrew Prinz, has played. Song titles like "The Singing Arc-Lamp" do almost as much to explain the sound of the music as I could in 150 words. By the middle of Disc Two, though, the sound begins to branch out, with "Semaphore Streamlines" and "Bunker Soldiers" embracing a more post-punk sensibility, the latter mixing melodica with bobbing synth and an odd, chanting vocal arrangement that breaks away from the band's more typical wispy harmonies and solo vocals.

Those wispy vocals do sound good, though, set in amongst guitars that go on for miles. They give the music's ephemeral arrangements interesting rhythms to play off of, too, laying on a thick, shimmering drone over a delay-drenched ponging noise on "Amelia No. 2". A lot of bands playing in this territory have songs that are basically interchangeable, but Mahogany don't fall into that trap-- even their earliest music takes care to introduce counter-melodies and allow the rhythm section (which is sometimes a machine) time to make its own statement.

Having all of this music, originally scattered over a collectors' nightmare of rare and hard to find discs, in one place is nice enough from a completist standpoint, but what's more impressive about Memory Column is that it illustrates a band's evolution while also presenting two very cohesive discs that each make a strong statement as suites. People who are into dream pop and classic UK shoegazer rock need to give this band a listen, as they're among the best bands currently doing this stuff, and if Memory Column is any indication, hearing their continued evolution will be a pleasure.

- Joe Tangari, July 28, 2005 - Pitchfork


Very few albums manage to capture the elegance of past modernisms. Referring to an antiquated vision of the future is easy, but finding and expanding upon that timeless kernel of forward-thinking excitement and systematic rigor is no small feat. It comes as little surprise to me that at least one member of Brooklyn eight-piece Mahogany are involved in the world of architecture-- Connectivity! is as much a structural achievement as it is a simply gorgeous record, cultivating a graceful, time-collapsing sense of modernity.

Therein lies the greatest difference between Mahogany and most bands who have been fitted with the "neo-shoegazer" tag: Unlike many of their reverb-loving contemporaries, Mahogany never fall back on atmospherics alone. As gorgeous as these sounds are, they always seem to have a place within the greater plan of the song-- nothing on Connectivity! registers as unnecessary or obstructive. Rather than playing towards a sense of impenetrable mystery, Connectivity! lays out its inner workings like a well-made machine.

Opener "Tesselation (Formerly Plateau One)" could set the scene for a futuristic city at work-- drum machine beats skitter and shuffle alongside simple, repeated figures on piano and guitar. Even the vocals are broken up into short, efficient geometric phrases. The song evolves intuitively, if not organically, building layer upon layer of blips, synthesizers, and staggered boy-girl singing. The short, upbeat "The View From the People Wall" and first single "Supervitesse" are particularly successful iterations of a similar formula. A straightforward and unaffected vocal style flatters most of the band's material, but when the melodies falter, Connectivity! can seem a little too neat and well-oiled for its own good.

The latter parts of the record are less rhythmically rigid and darker in tone. "Domino Ladder Beta" sounds like a long-lost Arthur Russell outtake, all gorgeous cello, minimal percussion and reverb-drenched vocals. "Springtime, Save Our Country" showcases the band's impressive use of harmonic tension to create mood and movement. By song's end, vocal figures repeat and double back on themselves, eventually dissolving into a beautiful fog of synthesizers and sleigh bells. Stereolab and Broadcast comparisons are obvious and by no means off-base, but the sonics and melodic turns of Connectivity! also bring to mind the Notwist and Security-era Peter Gabriel.

The second disc of Connectivity! includes two alternate mixes done by the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie as well as a lengthier mix of "Supervitesse". Guthrie's participation in Connectivity! gives the album an air of credibility, but Mahogany never really attempt the otherworldly beauty of the Cocteaus. While Connectivity! is a gorgeous record, it tends to err towards the neat, the structural, and the logical. Indeed, the album's central tension ultimately constrains its emotional range and resonance-- Connectivity! is stuck between the ethereal and the mechanical. It's not a flaw per se, but rather a slight limitation built into a masterfully executed structure.

- Matt LeMay, December 14, 2006 - Pitchfork


Hand-picked by Kele Okereke to support Bloc Party on their recent UK tour, Brooklyn-based Mahogany found themselves in the odd position of playing their debut UK shows to thousands of people at the not-small-in-any-way likes of the Brixton Carling Academy. But while most support acts are chosen simply to make the headline band look good by comparison, Mahogany are a brave exception: ‘Connectivity!’’s fuzzy pop hooks and discreet electronic burbling are exactly the kind of thing that people in the early-1960s imagined we’d all be listening to in 2007, in between eating meals in pill-form and taking the daily 7.58 space shuttle to work on Saturn.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/reviews/mahogany/8595#cPee8KiLm4L6UxGT.99 - NME


'Shoegazing' is back - and has shaken off its old image of being about bands who just stare at the ground while they play. Jude Rogers talks to the pioneers of nu-gazing.

At the start of summer 2007 a supple, shimmery thread started darning itself through a long line of euphoric-sounding albums. From Maps to Blonde Redhead, Mahogany to Deerhunter, Asobi Seksu to Ulrich Schnauss, you could hear the heady, woozy influence of a style of music that had been a byword for naffness and overindulgence for the past 15 years; a type of music that Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers had said he "hated more than Hitler". Names like nu-gaze, stargaze and shoetronica were used to describe it, names that couldn't quite hide the scene that dared not speak its name. For shoegazing was back - the sound of jangly indie fed through layers of distortion, overdrive and fuzz; of delicate souls turning themselves up to 11. In Summer 2007, bands, clubs, Mercury prize-nominated albums, films, and novels are all proud to claim it as an inspiration.

Why shoegazing and why now? "Because it's time to be adventurous again - and it's time to reclaim the music from the term," says Nathaniel Cramp, the cheerful, bearded promoter of Sonic Cathedral, both a shoegazing club that travels around the UK, and a record label. The term is the first problem: it began life as it remains - a derogatory word coined by Food Records boss Andy Ross in 1990, co-opted by the NME to describe bands like Slowdive, Chapterhouse and Moose, who would stare at their pedals through their curtains of hair rather than engage with their fans when they played live. "It wasn't very fair," says Neil Halstead, formerly Slowdive's shy teenage frontman, and now the leader of country band Mojave 3. "The live shows were far from fey. They were about the energy of the experience, about sheer volume, and about taking a quantum leap. It's was about getting excited, getting stoned, but the same time it was about being geeky - something that wasn't rock'n'roll in any respect."

Groups like Ride and My Bloody Valentine were the big bands of shoegaze, and were fiercely anti-rock in their music and their outlook. "We didn't want to use the stage as a platform for ego, like the big bands of the time did, like U2 and Simple Minds," says Mark Gardener, then Ride's lead singer, and now a solo artist. "We presented ourselves as normal people, as a band who wanted their fans to think they could do that too." Ride managed to take this to another level in February 1992, having a top 10 hit with the eight-minute epic Leave Them All Behind.

So what went wrong? Indie's dance revolution harmed shoegazing early on, bands from prosperous Thames Valley towns such as Oxford and Reading being easily mockable, and less exciting, next to their druggy and arrogant Madchester rivals. From 1992, grunge started bovver-booting its presence all over pop culture, its pessimistic lyrics and musical sparseness utterly at odds with shoegazing's lush, languid optimism. "We had no chance after grunge," says Gardener. "We were the opposite of greasy smack-takers from America. We were nice boys - and nice boys on the wrong kinds of drugs."

But 15 years later shoegazing has become hip again. Cramp thinks the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation in late 2003 - curated by My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields - speeded its return, and his club's mission is to contextualise shoegazing in terms of its influences and inspirations. "You'll just as likely hear Syd Barrett and Ladytron as you will Swervedriver and Moose. It's music I know people in Ride T-shirts with fringes will like - although they're too old to have fringes now, they've receded too much - but also music younger people will find exciting too." He mentions one of Sonic Cathedral's latest signings, Kyte, a band of boys in their early 20s who'd never heard shoegazing records until Cramp played them some, and Manchester's Working for a Nuclear Free City, who came to shoegaze through the ambient music of Brian Eno.

James Chapman, the 28-year-old bedroom musician behind Mercury prize-nominated Maps, likes this idea of putting shoegazing into context. He was only dimly aware of it as a child. "To me, shoegazing is just a stage of psychedelic music. I hear late 1980s dance in the music of that time, but also a lot of the late 60s psychedelic folk scene." These influences were also flagged up by bands at the time: Shields said that dance music was the inspiration for his band's biggest album, Loveless, while Gardener and Halstead still love the Byrds, the Doors and the Velvet Underground. Chapman thinks psychedelic music of either the dance or rock kind is always exciting to experience live. "I want to make music and play mu - The Guardian


'Shoegazing' is back - and has shaken off its old image of being about bands who just stare at the ground while they play. Jude Rogers talks to the pioneers of nu-gazing.

At the start of summer 2007 a supple, shimmery thread started darning itself through a long line of euphoric-sounding albums. From Maps to Blonde Redhead, Mahogany to Deerhunter, Asobi Seksu to Ulrich Schnauss, you could hear the heady, woozy influence of a style of music that had been a byword for naffness and overindulgence for the past 15 years; a type of music that Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers had said he "hated more than Hitler". Names like nu-gaze, stargaze and shoetronica were used to describe it, names that couldn't quite hide the scene that dared not speak its name. For shoegazing was back - the sound of jangly indie fed through layers of distortion, overdrive and fuzz; of delicate souls turning themselves up to 11. In Summer 2007, bands, clubs, Mercury prize-nominated albums, films, and novels are all proud to claim it as an inspiration.

Why shoegazing and why now? "Because it's time to be adventurous again - and it's time to reclaim the music from the term," says Nathaniel Cramp, the cheerful, bearded promoter of Sonic Cathedral, both a shoegazing club that travels around the UK, and a record label. The term is the first problem: it began life as it remains - a derogatory word coined by Food Records boss Andy Ross in 1990, co-opted by the NME to describe bands like Slowdive, Chapterhouse and Moose, who would stare at their pedals through their curtains of hair rather than engage with their fans when they played live. "It wasn't very fair," says Neil Halstead, formerly Slowdive's shy teenage frontman, and now the leader of country band Mojave 3. "The live shows were far from fey. They were about the energy of the experience, about sheer volume, and about taking a quantum leap. It's was about getting excited, getting stoned, but the same time it was about being geeky - something that wasn't rock'n'roll in any respect."

Groups like Ride and My Bloody Valentine were the big bands of shoegaze, and were fiercely anti-rock in their music and their outlook. "We didn't want to use the stage as a platform for ego, like the big bands of the time did, like U2 and Simple Minds," says Mark Gardener, then Ride's lead singer, and now a solo artist. "We presented ourselves as normal people, as a band who wanted their fans to think they could do that too." Ride managed to take this to another level in February 1992, having a top 10 hit with the eight-minute epic Leave Them All Behind.

So what went wrong? Indie's dance revolution harmed shoegazing early on, bands from prosperous Thames Valley towns such as Oxford and Reading being easily mockable, and less exciting, next to their druggy and arrogant Madchester rivals. From 1992, grunge started bovver-booting its presence all over pop culture, its pessimistic lyrics and musical sparseness utterly at odds with shoegazing's lush, languid optimism. "We had no chance after grunge," says Gardener. "We were the opposite of greasy smack-takers from America. We were nice boys - and nice boys on the wrong kinds of drugs."

But 15 years later shoegazing has become hip again. Cramp thinks the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation in late 2003 - curated by My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields - speeded its return, and his club's mission is to contextualise shoegazing in terms of its influences and inspirations. "You'll just as likely hear Syd Barrett and Ladytron as you will Swervedriver and Moose. It's music I know people in Ride T-shirts with fringes will like - although they're too old to have fringes now, they've receded too much - but also music younger people will find exciting too." He mentions one of Sonic Cathedral's latest signings, Kyte, a band of boys in their early 20s who'd never heard shoegazing records until Cramp played them some, and Manchester's Working for a Nuclear Free City, who came to shoegaze through the ambient music of Brian Eno.

James Chapman, the 28-year-old bedroom musician behind Mercury prize-nominated Maps, likes this idea of putting shoegazing into context. He was only dimly aware of it as a child. "To me, shoegazing is just a stage of psychedelic music. I hear late 1980s dance in the music of that time, but also a lot of the late 60s psychedelic folk scene." These influences were also flagged up by bands at the time: Shields said that dance music was the inspiration for his band's biggest album, Loveless, while Gardener and Halstead still love the Byrds, the Doors and the Velvet Underground. Chapman thinks psychedelic music of either the dance or rock kind is always exciting to experience live. "I want to make music and play mu - The Guardian


Speaking of long awaited releases, fans of the band Mahogany, who used to call Brooklyn their home and previously included DLE member Ana Breton in their line-up along with yours truly, should be wetting their undies in anticipation of the long awaited follow-up to the band’s 2006 opus 'Connectivity!' which led to UK dates opening for Bloc Party. Another sign that a new LP may be near is the band’s recent release of the new single and long-form video for 'Phase Break', which continues on band visionary Andrew Prinz’s ambitious quest for all things grand in scope. You’ve got it all with this one: sexy French cooing from his partner and muse Jaclyn Slimm, cellos, ballerinas, train tracks and most of all, a three-part saga that sometimes harkens back to the electronic period output of Factory Records artists such as Section 25. - Artrocker


Discography

"Dual Group" 12" EP (Burnt Hair, 1997)
"Luminous Constructions" 7" (Tinseltones 1997)
"Il Dynamo De Luce" Compilation CD (Clairecords 1998)
"What Will Become of The Key of Reason?" (Blackbean & Placenta Tape Club) single-sided 12" EP
"What Will Become of The Key of Reason?" (Clairecords/Simdisc, 1998) CD EP
"In Search Of The Radiant Sun" 7" (Elefant UK, 1999)
"Semaphore Stream-Lines" Compilation CD (Disasters By Choice IT, 1999)
"In The Presence Of The Crepuscular" 7" (Amberley UK, 2000)
"Resonances" UK Tour 7" (Amberley UK, 2000)
"The Dream of a Modern Day" limited LP (Clairecords/Simdisc, 1999)
"The Dream of a Modern Day" CD (Burnt Hair, 2000)
"The Dream of a Modern Day" CD (Darla, 2000)
"Memory Column: Early Works & Rarities" 2xCD (Darla, 2005)
"Connectivity!" 2xCD (Darla, 2006 / Track & Field Organisation UK 2006)
"Phase Break" single (Renovo, 2013)

Photos

Bio

"Like Tom Waits, art-pop concern Mahogany keep getting weirder while staying the same. Mahogany synthesize myriad ideas and carefully constructed sounds into a full-blown mini-suite that plays as much as a mediation and art project regarding a beloved form as it does a coherent piece of music. The group -- here just the duo of Jaclyn Slimm and founder Andrew Prinz -- fuses elements of Cocteau Twins bass-chord groove with every manner of analog drum patches, pristine cello work and Ms. Slimm's elegant vocals. Incorporating elements of dance music will hopefully win Mahogany an even larger share of fans, although it is the complicated joys of its non-traditional compositions that should really wow admirers." -- Edward Charlton, Clicky Clicky

Performing live with Ulrich Schnauss, Vampire Weekend, Spoon, Chairlift, Clinic, Bloc Party, Serena Maneesh, Interpol, Luna, Broadcast, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and many others, Mahogany maintains a cult status amongst the group’s listeners.

Band Members