February 27, 2011

Album Review: Mi Ami's Dolphins EP

Noise rock to a certain degree has become fashionable. What used to be about unexpected clamor, clang, reverb, distortion and hiss has made way to danceable synth arrangements and more linear progressions. Take bands like HEALTH and Abe Vigoda for instance, who started off following in the complex footsteps of Liars and Boredoms and have since gravitated toward the electronic spectrum of Nine Inch Nails as envisioned on the dancefloor. It's a sign of the times and San Francisco's Mi Ami seem to be fully aware of it. Now a duo instead of a quartet, the ex-psych-noise ensemble has put their bass drum and guitars down for the time being on their new EP, Dolphins. While Damon Palermo and Daniel Martin-McCormick still entertain their noise rock upbringing beneath the synthetic surface, Dolphins understandably marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Mi Ami as a band -- and a satisfying escape for their listeners. AwkwardSound couldn't say enough good things about the EP's opening track, "Hard Up," and even made it a Recommended Listen thanks to a sweltering Italo dance beat complimented by Martin-McCorkmick's signature off-key vocals. The subsequent and title track, "Dolphins," is the EP's longest coming in at over 9 minutes long, but makes good use of every second within by exploring burning electronic soundscapes under a mid-tempo rhythm. "Sunrise" is the EP's only instrumental moment and as the title suggests, atmosphere and imagery play a pivotal role in creating not just the music's soundscape, but imagery of hot weather, haze and paradise (This in turn makes sense of all those new age references on the Dolphins press release from label, Thrill Jockey.) Mi Ami manages to sweat out your ears with a balanced approach of pop beats and frenzied fuzz by the time the EP closes out with "Echo," and at a length of over 30 minutes long collectively, this EP puts most full-lengths to shame. It's a sound that's unexpected, fresh and energetic coming from a band like Mi Ami, but these two reformed noise rockers state a good case as to why their scene deserves a spot on the dancefloor, too.

Mi Ami's Dolphins EP will be released March 15, 2011 on Thrill Jockey Records.

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