Mesiko Reincarnate a Dangerously Delicious Psychedelic Sound

by delarue

Two thirds of Mesiko – frontwoman/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Raquel Bell and guitarist David Marshall – first came together in Norden Bombsight, a relentlessly intense psychedelic art-rock crew destined for cult status in future decades. That band was together for a couple of years, played maybe a couple dozen shows, put out a single, brilliantly careening, noir-splattered album and then called it quits. Undeterred, Bell and Marshall went on to team up with another multi-instrumentalist, Ray Rizzo – a Randi Russo alum who’s one of the most sought-after drummers in rock – and created Mesiko to keep their distinctive, eerily surreal, psychedelic sound alive. Their bandcamp page – where their new album Solar Door is streaming – is tagged “rock chant folk noir psychedelic Brooklyn.” But they go a lot further than any of those categories would suggest, often in a single song: Marshall’s guitar multitracks are terse and elegant but also menacing, bordering on macabre. The Walkabouts make a good comparison. Mesiko are playing the album release show at around 11 at Bowery Electric on Nov 9 for a measly ten bucks.

Yellowbirds bassist Annie Nero plays the punchy, syncopated no wave-funk hook on the album’s catchy opening track, Hamptons BJ. “My magic number is infinity”, Bell deadpans as Marshall skronks around, early 80s style. Then they go all dreamy and echoey, then pull it all together with a late 70s glampunk strut. All that in just under five minutes.

Metronome mingles rustic acoustic and rippling electronic textures into a psych-folk groove that looks straight back to the Grateful Dead. Swamp builds from a slowly stalking, insectile intro to a nocturnally hypnotic sway that’s part Dead and part Norden Bombsight, then a creepy reverb-fueled southwestern gothic interlude.

Clint contrasts Bell’s stark vocals with Marshall’s more low-key delivery over brooding Americana-flavored psychedelia: “Is that how you got that ribbon and that scar?” Bell asks pointedly, Marshall ripping the lid off with a snarling reverb guitar solo a little later on. Lies takes a familiar Lou Reed theme and reinvents it with a punchier beat via Rizzo’s menacing tumbles and rolls, Nero’s neo-Motown groove and Marshall’s diamond-cutter tremolopicking.

Daphane’s Counter builds from spare, nocturnal country-blues ambience to a hypnotic paisley underground sway: the mantra is “that particular shadow looks like you.” I’m Harry Cleveland takes a brief, breathless departure into X-style punk rock; then the band methodically work their way from spacey atmospherics to an unhinged, funky pulse with Grey Room. From there they make their way through an unexpectedly poppy number spiced with jaunty baritone sax, then an equally successful detour into oldschool soul. They close the album with the distantly disquieting Mockingbird and its early 70s Pink Floyd resonance: “Put away the mockingbird inside your lungs, keep your cellular calls to a minimum,” Rizzo sings as the band rises to a squall. As psychedelic art-rock in 2014 goes, it doesn’t get any better than this. Is this the best album of the year? It’s one of the best half-dozen or so, no question.