This is post-rock on a level you haven’t heard.
There’s been no shortage of incredible talent pushing the boundaries and forging new ground in the post-genre scene locally this year. Drone, Gaze and Dark Ambient music is getting it’s turn. Enter MNMM (pronounced: Minimum). Melbourne’s own little super group bridges a gap between middle-eastern and more traditional forms of music within the post rock scene.
The album opens up with a subtle and gentle drone and swelling strings, ambient guitar chimes in, drums build and for 11 minutes you are swept away. Gelareh sings in Iranian so unless your mother tongue is also Iranian the words will just add another musical element to the whole thing rather than a narrative. Her voice is soft, low and whilst beautiful, it very easily blends into the background as part of the whole. Building songs around poetry has been done for a millennia but when it doesn’t follow a standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus pattern (such as our typical western pop songs)..you get something quite unique..and so MNMM is holding the title of most original offering I’ve heard all year. It is also, admittedly, quite the novelty to be unable to decipher a single word!
With drums…you get what you might expect of a post-rock outfit and it’s as measured and effective as it could be. Bright and live, the sounds are well balanced and the performances compliment the band overall, rather than being a backbone or pace setter. Build ups with snare rolls and thunderous half time under crashing cymbals..all sit where they should. Hits the nail squarely where it ought to be hit.
The guitar you’ll love for all the verby, spacey, ambient modulation and is employed to usual euphoric effect. It’s the single biggest factor that leads to post-rock comparisons really. It all sounds great!
HOWEVER all these great elements aside, it’s the stringed instrument that Gelareh plays which hold my curiosity. Not a cello, a Kamanche! It’s a traditional middle eastern instrument played with a bow and sounds freeking unreal. There’s layers to this music beyond the mix of sounds that reach into culture, history and interconnectedness across artforms..and I am loving this.
The band is known for semi-improvised music in a live setting but for this release they took a couple of days to record this collection of works back in March. The sounds are all authentic and very little appears at all tampered with, if anything a true and faithful recording of the band as they were on those days.
I personally really enjoy the disregard for standard song formula here and their tendency to meander and dwell or drone on a chord progression for as long as they do.
Do not sleep on this if you are at all interested in post rock and dark ambient music. If you need any more convincing take a listen to ‘This Song Is A Lie’ lifted off this stunning debut: