REVIEW @ SONIC DICE
Mimes of wine – Apocalypse sets in
Luke Bishop – 09/18/09
With some 13 musicians contributing to their sound you might expect Mimes Of Wine to make a racket. But this album deftly proves that a big band, doesn’t necessarily mean a big sound. In fact, the term ‘band’ is misleading; the main focal point is lead singer and pianist Laura Loriga with the rest of the musicians and their instruments working on a revolving door basis, appearing as and when they are needed to back up her songs. Because of this, the album feels largely like a solo effort albeit one with a lot more ambition than most singer-songwriters.
From the beginning, it has an experimental feel that belies the fact it is mostly acoustic and lacking in any audio-trickery. Opener Julius begins jarringly, the breathy vocals never sounding quite in tandem with the piano but they soon create a haunting atmosphere with the help of background chanting and an eerie EBow.
Despite being largely based on piano and vocals, the album thankfully never strays into Norah Jones-style blandness. In tracks like K, where it briefly threatens to do so, it quickly shifts its sound – the piano starts to gallop and some muted but dextrous drumming is thrown into the mix completely changing the atmosphere of the song.
In fact, atmosphere might be what this album has a little bit too much of. The album was recorded over the course of three winters in California, Paris and the band’s native Italy, and the bleakness of the season hangs heavily over it. Nowhere is this more evident thanLong Lifting Road; a dirge of minor-chords accompanied by embittered, half-sung, half-whispered vocals; a song which, at many points, seems ready to explode into action but never quite picks itself up out of its hole.
But despite the oppressively grim and foreboding atmosphere, which often cloys up the album, it throws enough variation into the mix to keep up the listener’s interest. On first listen, Oberkampf seems yet another dreary lament when, out of nowhere, it turns into a early-20th century jazz song for about 30 seconds before continuing like nothing had ever happened. The album is full of little moments like this, which means you listen to it eagerly awaiting what sounds will appear around the next musical corner.