No Mandate – Recalibrate (2021)

Equal parts sonic-spaghetti, punk-dub and noise-rock ‘Recalibrate’ by No Mandate is a lot of fun!

This bizarrely fascinating album is a much more focused and deliberate affair previous material yet retains the unexpected twists of their unpredictable nature. This time No Mandate offers 7 tracks of various quirky and groovy music which as the name suggests…has no mandate to subscribe to any one form or style. Still I’ll say it’s groovy in the sense that each song finds the rhythmic hook to move your head and leans into psychedelic and dark vibes.

The best moments happen when all members sync up and roll out a riff in unison. Then as if exhausted by the effort everyone relaxes back into their spacey noodling, loose-AF pockets for a little breather. If you find yourself loosing interest…just wait 10 seconds and see if the next idea doesn’t rope you back in!

The majority of Recalibrate is instrumental but could just as easily have been written for vocals to accompany but just never eventuated.

The title track ‘Recalibrate’ is one such song that does feature singing and this track in particular reminded me of an off-kilter ‘Conation’ or ‘Ricaine’. Half of you wont have heard of them…but..the rest will be nodding their heads. There’s conviction in the meaningful lyrics ‘We shall co exist, we shall cohabitate this place, we shall collaborate’.

The following track ‘Nothing to Declare’ is more spasmodic and frantic explosion, a welcome short blast of tension. I dare say this is the ‘throw-back’ to earlier No Mandate! No shame in saying I freeking love this shit! I find it hilarious that they shot a video for this…and you know what…im here for it. Why not!

‘747 Dub’ ventures into that punk-dub I referenced at the start. Guitars doing stark chords and discordant lines over a persistent thump and thud of the bass and drums holding it together. Imagine ‘Helmet’ playing dub…noisy and experimental with weird sounds pinging left and right. Thicc guitars invoke doom vibes and then oddly nuanced playing starts to suggest at any second they could just as easily trip into jazz or something. Its’s a journey.

‘Hamster Wheel’ is the showstopper. These three master players can command the space in between as much as they can fill it. There’s a dub element, a lot of quiet and times where very little is happening but when it builds and all comes together at the end you have a collage of all the things which make up this oddly interesting band.

‘Other Brother’ could have been a SIEMS b-side. The bass throbs and grinds while the guitars stab and get all weird. I’d swallow a whole album of this mathy-prog jam. Favorite track for me.

Production is pretty raw allowing for all the little clicks, sounds and natural noises to stick out. The drums especially command attention throughout with a ‘live’ and punchy sound. Pay attention and you will hear all the little things like soft strokes, ghost notes, cymbals ringing past their hits, it’s all very honest and real. I enjoyed the bass in it’s simplicity and contrasting chaos. The dirtier it gets the more I grin. There’s some technical trickery to sure, you might miss it through anything less than a decent set of headphones.

Overall.. this is fun, unexpected, raucous and just different!

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