The Mast
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The Mast

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Rock




"The Mast releases an incredibly polished album that is a testament to their talent"

The Mast‘s debut album, Wild Poppies, finds percussionist Matt Kilmer and guitarist/vocalist Haele working together under a new moniker. Haele and Kilmer, who have previously toured under Haele’s name, certainly aren’t strangers to the music industry — they’ve performed gigs in Europe, Canada and the US, including notable performances at Carnegie Hall and Bonnaroo. But this album marks the start of a more personal, finessed project for the duo.

On Wild Poppies, The Mast creates an immensely broad sound that is consistently rich. Haele’s ethereal voice contrasts beautifully with the deep and occasionally funky electric guitar, the tracks featuring an almost echoistic quality that creates a feeling of boundlessness. Kilmer’s measured, tribalistic drumbeats vivaciously throb underneath the melody and harmony lines.

Much of the album has a smooth, almost ambient quality to it. Each track is distinct and discernible but fits impeccably with the overall sonic aesthetic. This is achieved through the near-perfect transitions between songs: the slightly more up-tempo “The Lake,” melts into “Definitions,” which opens with a slower, repetitive, guitar declension backed by light, un-intrusive drumbeats. There are a few moments of lag on the album (“Trump” is a bit weak lyrically and parts of “EOA” drones a bit too much), but Wild Poppies generally intersperses just the right amount of movement and just the right amount of consistency.

“My All” is probably the song that best captures the band’s musical and lyrical strengths. Opening with a simple, strummed guitar pattern with Matt’s accented backbeats coming in shortly after, the balance of all the musical elements on this track is nothing short of perfect. Haale croons “Walking through the marshes/ the mud gives way like satin/ Underwater grasses/ caress like the manes of lions,” as a lead-in to the lyrically-simple chorus: “I give my all to you.” The simplicity and repetition of the single chorus line showcases the strength of Haele’s pipes — there is obvious passion and power behind that voicebox.

Wild Poppies is an impressive debut release from a talented pair of musicians — they’ve set their standard high.

The Mast
Wild Poppies

My All
Brooklyn, NY

The Mast releases an incredibly polished album that is a testament to their talent — Poppies is effortless, ambient, and captivating. - Stereo Subervsion

"The Mast CD Release at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC"

She [Malian singer Khaira Arby] shares the bill tonight with the Mast, a promising new Brooklyn duo comprising mesmerizing singer-guitarist Haale and limber percussionist Matt Kilmer. - Time Out NY


Ladies and gentlemen, The Mast! The Brooklyn duo’s debut Wild Poppies is fascinating with a rich personality. Haale and Matt Kilmer’s sound is remarkably lush for a two-piece, and they managed to create an album that succeeds in mood, atmosphere, and technical work.

Kilmer’s tribal drumming is fucking fantastic--I’m convinced there aren’t three better drummers alive. The degree of difficulty is high on his quickened, tribal rhythms, and even higher when you consider how tasteful his drumming is. He’s constantly adding positive wrinkles to the songs with just his drums (such a basic instrument). Then there’s Haale, who is terrifically pretty and talented at the same time. She plays a hypnotic, arpeggio-laden electric guitar, which is in charge of the music’s melody and mood. Her voice and melodic sensibilities are akin to Chan Marshall of Cat Power, which is to say, Haale’s vocals are both dark and brooding but also fragile and deeply melodic. Haale is basically firing off rounds and rounds of hooks all throughout the album. Haale is an artful, talented-as-balls frontwoman.

What immediately catches your attention on Wild Poppies is that it’s quite obviously a two-piece. With The Mast, the revelation that only two instruments plus a voice is being used is a boon to the listening experience. The other dynamic that really works is the contrast between the music and Haale’s vocals. The guitar riffs have only a few modes, one being ascending, another descending, and the other one is an almost chromatic riff, where the guitar creates noticeable tension. The vocals, though, remain ethereal and soft, while the riff gets definitively sadder, brighter, or outright tenser. No matter the mode, every chord/arpeggio change is thoroughly pronounced, giving the songs are much bigger feel than a guitar-drums setup. “Trump” ascends to a place of maximum tension, then drops out when Haale delivers the song’s hook. It should be noted, Kilmer is fucking slaying it on this song, which is the not-so-secret reason this song is as great as it is. The guitar is simple is hell, but effective, and Haale’s melody is great but this song would be too thin without some jaw-breaking percussion from Kilmer. Haale’s wordless falsetto, quite angelic, is the thrilling climax to a tremendous song.

“Prize” has a buzzing guitar riff that’s very Hail to the Thief-ian. Kilmer is seemingly playing in some alien time signature. “Lucid Dreaming” has a great start-stop rhythm, giving The Mast a bit more punch. The atmosphere around the vocals can be pretty weighty, probably to account for the missing space a two-piece creates. The album has a constant stream, and it would have been nice if there were a couple of songs focused on more minimalist ideas. In a way, it seems each song is a pronounced statement of unbridled charisma, like “Hey, we’re The Fucking Mast!”, but the album, in terms of flow and mood, doesn’t match each song’s greatness. Haale, in her angelic way, has her melodies go balls-to-the-wall every time, even when Kilmer reserves his drumming (which he actually does quite often). On its own, “My All” is a really good song, but in the middle of the album, I can’t but wonder what if it was a more spacious ballad. In other words, I’d like to see The Mast revel (in select spots) in the fact they’re a two-piece and not always have to compensate for it.

Overall, however, the amount of polish of The Mast’s debut album is remarkable. The remind me a little bit of the rock version of The Knife, a brooding, atmospheric duo. They should be setting venues and festivals ablaze all throughout the country, because they’re really damn talented and really damn unique. - In Your Speakers

"11 Bands to Watch in 2011"

Haale Gafori and Matt Kilmer don’t make casual music. Spiritual, whip smart and intense, The Mast is full-bodied yet intoxicating like a wondrous scent caught at random on a strong wind. It’s hard to say where it came from but one must follow it just the same. This is music for lovers and fractals, dreamers and supplicants, rockers with questioning souls and children of all ages. Original, refreshingly sincere and strong as a tree, The Mast is working on their debut album for release later in 2011. For more on this pair, here’s a conversation with Haale and Matt that Dennis had a couple years back. - Dirty Impound

"You Gotta See This: The Mast"

The Mast
Wild Poppies Preview
The Mast stir up an atmosphere one can practically touch on their powerfully hypnotic debut, Wild Poppies (arriving June 21). Built from the marvelously unruly, probing electric guitar and sinuous voice of Haale and the deep roll and rumble of Vishnu-armed percussionist Matt Kilmer, The Mast is New York City and ancient scrolls, a potent kiss and a tongue’s sting. The Impound hears the more impassioned parts of PJ Harvey intertwined with that cool-ass Middle Eastern thing Robert Plant & Jimmy Page worked up, and more we cannot put our finger on, even as we play the album at different times of the day and absorb the differences sunlight and nightshade bring and finding this debut ideal for both morning and evening raga-time. Complex undercurrents flow in The Mast’s music, and in shallow times that’s a real gift. Dip a toe into their water in this preview clip. - Dirty Impound

"The Mast - Wild Poppies"

A rainy Sunday afternoon give me some time to catch up on some new music that has landed on the doormat or sits in my inbox.

Brooklyn-based duo, The Mast are instant sunshine to my rainy day with the album ‘Wild Poppies’, take your pick who you can hear in their music. Expansive rhythms bring to mind TV ON The Radio, Plant & Page with their Sahara influence, Interpol bass lines vocalist and guitarist ‘Haale’ evokes a Kate Bush to Beth Gibbons range.

The band are apparently a duo with drummer Matt Kilmer completing the lineup. With the kaleidoscope of sounds on this album, I just can’t imagine a duo is all it takes, musicianship and modern technology combined I guess.

The Mast are not ‘wet behind the ears’ either. Before launching this new project, they toured for two years under Haale's name. They played over 250 shows including Bonnaroo, Preservation Hall, and a David Byrne curated series at Carnegie Hall. .

After these creative people had returned from touring in 2009, they built a studio in Brooklyn (surely the most musical suburb in the U.S. at present?) and recorded 'Wild Poppies'.

You can get a sample of the album from the band’s website here and you can see a video of the making to the title track here The song itself, is a gem of a song to dance to. Three songs are streaming now at

‘Trump’ sounds electronic based, with just a tiny, fleeting Zeppelin hint during the intro. Haale's vocals are perfectly layered above the mosaic of instrumentation. Percussion rules on E.O.A oh, and the feet have not stopped tapping yet?

‘My All’ brings the guitar to the forefront and with a sparse rasping tone, Haale vocals “I Give by Heart to Youuuuu” …. Heavenly.

The next songs in the stream ‘Prize’ ‘The Lake’ and ‘Definition’ all seem to have a more ‘listen to’ rather than ‘dance around the room too’ feel which, gives an added perception to the record. ‘Hummingbird’ with a vibrating and White Stripes like guitar line, should get those feet dancing again however.

This record is great because it is difficult to pin the group down comparison wise. Slow Club, Friendly Fires, and Interpol are bands that come to mind, you will just have to listen for yourself!

Pete - The Rock Club UK


I had always thought that the djembe was an instrument solely relegated to the living room of a stoned and nude Matthew McConaughey. To the sandal clad college kid; or perhaps set in the corner of some ecologically sound mansion as a decorative gesture of cultural awareness. It’s refreshing to have one’s stereotypes shattered. The Mast’s new album Wild Poppies -and their djembe- did just that.

The ethereal vocals of Haale, whose riffs conjure scenes of panoramic deserts, compliment the unfolding complexity of Matt Kilmer’s poly-rhythmic drumming (using not only the djembe, but also a frame drum a bass drum, a floor tom, and cymbals) and invoke a sort of blooming, colorful landscape of layers, organically grown. I think of a toned down Kills, a hyperactive (or perhaps simply active) Mazzy Star, a straightforward Blonde Redhead. In spite of these comparisons, and in a music world saturated with tuned glossy duos, The Mast has carved out a niche all their own, weaving together a sound both simulated and organic.

Song titles like “The Lake” and “Hummingbird,” and lyrics such as “gold dust of the sun has settled, brightens my mind,” or “rolling over the reeds, rolling over mounds of earth, from my head to feet, oh land, the grand masseuse,” reinforce the earthiness of the sound. Despite the fact that the cover art, a fractal image of poppies grown in the band’s backyard, invites the psychedelic, to label their music as simply psychedelic, electronic or rock/pop would be off the mark. Much like their self-proclaimed symbol, The Mast’s strength lies in its ability to merge the best of all three in symbiotic sound. - The 22 Magazine


"Wild Poppies," released June 21, 2011

Album stream-able at
and at

Radio airplay:

WNYC Soundcheck--Live Performances of 'Wild Poppies,' 'Trump,' 'Hummingbird'
Album versions of 'Definitions' and 'My All'

WNYC Music Hub--'Wild Poppies'

CHIRP radio--'Lucid Dream'

KEXP--'Wild Poppies' mention in KEXP blog

upcoming features
on WKCR, and on WNYC 'Spinning on Air'



The Brooklyn based trance rock duo, The Mast, creates an expansive, propulsive sound featuring ethereal vocals and hypnotic electric guitar riffs over throbbing, polyrhythmic drumming. The seemingly eight-armed Matt Kilmer weaves a scintillating rhythmic tapestry with his hybrid drum set of frame drums, djembes, floor toms, and various cymbals. Meanwhile, Haale Gafori's interlocking guitar riffs and evocative vocals combine to create a sound that is at once danceable, deep, and inventive, balancing wild abandon and focused control. While the sound is truly unique, The Mast gives a nod to bands such as TV on the Radio, Tinariwen, PJ Harvey, and Blonde Redhead.

The Mast released their debut album on June 21, 2011. The blogosphere and radio stations have been buzzing about the album. The Mast had the honor of playing WNYC's Soundcheck on July 18th, and is getting featured on WNYC's 'Spinning on Air.' The next live radio performance will be on WKCR on August 10th.

"The only overdubs on this album were the extra layers of vocals. Every other sound was played live on the drums and the electric guitar, so we used various pedals and effects to give us all the sounds we needed--octave pedal for the bass, delay for the vocals and drums, etc. We wanted to make an album that we could play live as a duo,” says Matt. The spectacle of such an immense and expansive sound coming from just two people with no looping or samples must be seen to be believed.

Haale (pronounced like hallelujah or jalepeño) and Matt have been playing together since 2007, touring under Haale's name, playing shows all over the US, Canada, and Europe, including the David Byrne-curated series at Carnegie Hall, Preservation Hall, and the Bonnaroo festival. They also released 2 critically acclaimed EPs and a full-length album in 2008 entitled “No Ceiling” which the Boston Globe called “a swirly…gem of an of the year's most memorable releases.”

Matt has simultaneously played with an eclectic group of artists including the hip-hop legend Lauryn Hill, udist Simon Shaheen, and the comedian/musican Reggie Watts. He also composes music for comedian Louis CK’s television series “Louie” on the FX network.

In 2009 they returned home from touring, built a studio, crafted a new sound, and recorded “Wild Poppies.” They also designed the artwork including the cover, which is an intricate photo-collage of poppies grown in grown in their backyard in Brooklyn. Sonically and visually, the debut is a stand out.


"A promising new Brooklyn duo."
- TimeOut NY

"Kilmer's tribal drumming is fantastic. Haale is firing off rounds and rounds of hooks all throughout the album. Remarkably lush... each song is a pronounced statement of unbridled charisma” -InYourSpeakers

“The Mast releases an incredibly polished album that is a testament to their talent — Poppies is effortless, ambient, and captivating…they’ve set their standard high.” -StereoSubervsion

"Whip smart and intense…Original, refreshingly sincere and strong as a tree..."
-Dennis Cook (Editor of JamBase. From, 11 Bands to Watch

“The ethereal vocals of Haale, whose riffs conjure scenes of panoramic deserts, compliment the unfolding complexity of Matt Kilmer’s polyrhythmic drumming and invoke a sort of blooming, colorful landscape of layers...I think of a toned down Kills, a hyperactve Mazzy Star…Blonde Redhead. In spite of these comparisons, The Mast has carved out a niche all their own…to label their music as simply psychedelic, electronic, or rock/pop would be grossly off the mark…The Mast’s strength lies in its ability to merge the best of all three in symbiotic sound.”
-The 22 Magazine

“Expansive rhythms bring to mind TV on the Radio, Plant and Page with their Sahara influence… vocalist and guitarist Haale evokes Kate Bush to Beth Gibbons…and in Hummingbird [there’s a] White Stripes like guitar line. A kaleidoscope of sounds…a gem to dance to…instant sunshine…heavenly.” -The Rock Club UK

“Powerfully hypnotic…built from the marvelously probing electric guitar and sinuous voice of Haale and the deep roll and rumble of Vishnu-armed percussionist Matt Kilmer…The Mast is New York City and ancient scrolls…the more impassioned parts of PJ Harvey intertwined with that Middle Eastern thing Robert Plant and Jimmy Page worked up, and more we cannot put our finger on. Complex undercurrents flow in The Mast’s music, and in shallow times that’s a real gift.” -Dirty Impound

“Reminiscent of a punchier, more tribal version of the Cocteau Twins, builds on Haale’s ethereal and dreamy vocals/melodies, and Kilmer’s rather aggressive and eclectic percussive work.”-The Deli Magazine

"The Mast features mesmerizing distorted guitar riffs, hand percussion, and Haale's tripped out, undulating vocals..."
-WNYC Music Hub, Show pick of the day, Wild Poppies aired on Morning Edition