Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Matter Of Mild Peril

By Jazzi Marzcat

Tales of chivalrous knights, mystical swords, epic battles, timeless love and transcending magical spells, can all be found in the latest album by Mild Peril, called Matter. I first discovered Mild Peril, (a.k.a Chris Gilbert), with his synthwave covers of the Game of Thrones theme song, called "Throne of Swords", and 'Throne of Swords (Red Wedding Dance'. Being a fan of the show, it was hard not to fall in love with Mild Peril. The covers kept true to the melody of the theme song, composed a sense of darkness and danger with deep bass lines, thunderous drums, and best of all, featured the metallic clanging samples of striking swords. I mean how cool is that?!

Mild Peril also has released a number of EP's. Some contain earlier works, and demos. Body Party is an EP full of smashing dance beats, dedicated to the Endurance night club. Four EP's contain lengthy improvised, minimally edited, and sometimes even live performances of synthesized cosmic journeys into the unknown, appropriately named, Unknown Zones. All are available on Bandcamp and can be found here, (including a cassette offering of Unknown Zones).

For the album Matter, the title itself takes on a lot meaning in describing the inspiration for the music that follows. As Chris states on the Bandcamp description, " -the title of the album references medieval legend and story cycles, i.e. ‘the Matter of Britain’." Upon looking this up for more understanding behind the inspiration, I discovered the term was created by a french poet Jean Bodel in the 12th Century to describe the mythical tales of medieval literature, not only in Britain, but also from France, and Rome. With all that history and literature influences, already this album is promising something unique, and a well fleshed out concept.

The opening song 'Paladin's Theme' is an example of this. Paladin is term used to describe the foremost knights of Charlamange's court in the 12th century, not unlike King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. I found the song to be very exciting, with very catchy melodies, moments of spacey guitar solos, and a Italo Disco beat that makes it impossible to sit still while listening. Keeping with its medieval theme, the song features the sounds of sword clashes, thunder crashing, and horse whinnying. The horse whinnies usually signal that something quite spectacular is about to happen in the song. Just a very fun, and pleasing track to listen to!

On a side note, curious enough, there is a 1983 Italian-made movie about the paladins called Heart and Armour, with a very awesome synthwave soundtrack by David Hughes, (who also composed on C.H.U.D.). This song would fit perfectly in with this movie. (Hint, hint, if anyone might think of making a video for this song, Heart and Armour would be the movie to use!)  )

The Matter continues it's tales of chivalry with the track 'Excalibur'. Starting off with more sword clashes, the song has a distinct beat that sounds familiar to the Men Without Hats song 'The Safety Dance', further instilling the 80s recreation of medieval themes. Although instead of breaking into full dance mode, this song maintains a slower rhythmic beat, with spacey synth melodies and echoing choruses, bringing out the ethereal mysticism of the power to behold of the sword Excalibur. I love how the outro has the last sword clash echo away into the distance, as the tale of Excalibur floats away into the darkness of time.

'The Duel' is an exception on this album, being more of an OutRun track, with a heart racing beat and tension rising arpeggios. I imagined an epic battle between two opponents that are of equal speed, skill, and agility. At one moment, the beat descends volume, as it feels like the opponents are re-sizing one another. The battle continues, until finally, boom! The final blow is struck, and this song's story comes to an end. A very breathtaking track!

'Galatine' offers another fun Italo Disco piece. This time the setting is on a beach, with samples of the the ocean waves rolling, and the seagulls crying. I couldn't help but move myself to the delightful dance beat, and the really catchy and addictive melody. However all is not what it seems. Straight in the middle of the song, a freaky maniacal laughter is heard. A surprise and surrealness that I quite enjoyed!

Staying on the beach, 'Song of the Water' is definitely a song for lovers. The ocean waves continue to roll, as a soft bassline, and percussion, keeps a slow, but seductive rhythm. The soft sounding melody, with a whisper of tubular bells, gently rises towards the middle of the song, where a single spacey synth lead guitar solo takes over. The melody slowly rejoins, greatly increasing in intensity, until a very satisfying crescendo is achieved. A quite pleasurable song indeed!

The album ends with an epic, 17 minute track of spellbinding proportions. 'The Spell' begins off quite innocent, with the sounds of birds chirping. Slowly, the melody winds it's way in, with a addictive bassline that creates a mystical tune that never seems to lose its interest regardless of it's length. Mild Peril has a delightful video on his YouTube channel that showcases the beginning of this song. It begins with showing images of monotonousness daily life, like waiting for an electric kettle to boil. However, a cat runs out of a door, ants wreck havoc on a snail shell, and a butterfly mobile sways in the wind, all giving an indication that there is more to life than meets the human intuition. The video is also titled The Spell of Dingley Dell, further enhancing the mysterious meaning behind the song.

This album is just all together very enjoyable to listen to. Its music is highly imaginative, and has a very well thought out concept of medieval sorcery, with a nod to the cosmic future. Mild Peril has quite the talent to create fascinating electronic music, with addictive beats, and gorgeous melodies that never tire. His use of sound effect samples, such as that as the sword clashes, thunder rolls, church bells, and ocean waves, helps to create mental images, and enhances the music's story telling abilities. It was also recently picked as Synthetix Sunday's Album of the Week for the week of July 13th, 2014, by not only host Marko Maric, but also co-host Corey Benedict as well!

Telefuture Records presents Mild Peril's Matter EP on their Bandcamp page here on digital formats and limited edition cassette and I hereby rate this musical adventure a Synthetix Reference Experience. For a fan of synthwave, this album incorporates enough styles of music to please not only fans of progressive rock, but also fans of OutRun, Dreamwave, and Italo Disco. Accents like the use of medieval sound samples really sets Mild Peril's music apart from the rest of the scene. And for fans of fantasy, science fiction, and mythical legends, (such as myself), it is EPIC!!!

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