This week, The Mast is releasing its new album Pleasure Island, out now on Channel A Records. In conjunction with the release, the Brooklyn-based duo is streaming the album in full on its SoundCloud page.
The Mast has received early praise for Pleasure Island, with Pitchfork saying "with an ominous synthesized growl curling like dry ice underneath, 'UpUpUp' casts a beguiling spell." IndieShuffle weighed on track "Luxor," lauding its "excellent instrumentals and beats...[fusing] elements of drum and bass with catchy electro pop." The Village Voice fittingly summed up the band as "a modern day Renaissance couple...they play futuristic-electro pop inspired by early IDM and experimental beat music - James Blake on mescaline." GigWise praised the album as "incredibly sophisticated and melancholic pop music...Pulling on all forms of electronica from drum and bass to deep house, they reshape traditional song structures into something incredibly fresh sounding and new." Impose noted that Pleasure Island "finds the two working in non-traditional song structures to formulate an escapist get away through a full spectrum of sounds."
To celebrate the release of Pleasure Island, The Mast will play New York City's Mercury Lounge on February 8th. Additionally, the band just announced that Archie Pelago will open the bill. XLR8R recently called Archie Pelago "one of the most uniquely promising projects to rise from New York's dance-music community," making what will surely be a can't-miss night of music.
Having previously performed alongside Blonde Redhead, Reggie Watts, Teebs, Susanne Sundfør & more, beatsmith/percussionist Matt Kilmer and singer Haleh Gafori incorporate live electronics, percussion, and vocal improvisation in their live shows, preserving the spontaneity they cultivated as instrumentalists. Warm, sultry vocals and infectious melodies blend with driving beats that keep the audience dancing and bring to mind early IDM, post-dubstep, experimental beat music, as well as bands such as Massive Attack, Bonobo, and Mount Kimbie. XO Magazine said of their recent show at Glasslands in Brooklyn, "So unique and crisp is their sound, culled from a range of electronic genres, that their fans swarm to be an extended part of the show, transforming it from a performance into a dance fest." More tour dates in support of Pleasure Island will be announced soon.
Eschewing the traditional instrumentation used on their debut Wild Poppies, Haleh and Matt created the blueprints for Pleasure Island on planes and between gigs and recordings sessions for various projects in their hometown of Brooklyn and overseas. Over the past year, while composing music and recording for Louis CK's show Louie on FX and working with artists as diverse as Reggie Watts and new music cello pioneer Maya Beiser, Matt always had his laptop in tow and was consistently sending tracks to Haleh. Between directing or editing music videos and darting off to cities as far as Assisi, Italy to recite her poetry, Haleh would write lyrics, record melodies, tweak arrangements, and send the tracks back to Matt. Through this volleying of ideas, Pleasure Island was born.
This process resulted in an inviting, lush collection of songs that soaks the mind in a bath of endorphins while propelling the body to dance. Opening track "Luxor" highlights Matt's infatuation with early UK drum 'n bass released on the Metalheadz imprint, detectable in the skittering beats under Haleh's winding vocal lines and velvety chants. On "So Right," a minimalist verse featuring a bell-like synth slowly builds, eventually bursting into a chorus that could easily be at home in a Deadmau5 or Hardwell set. "Cliff" follows with a wide-open booming 808 beat that drops into a crushing double-time chorus as Haleh's vocals soar.
The dance floor banger "Breathless We Go" follows, leading us into the mysterious cave of "Voices" which like many of the songs on the album features found sounds, in this case the swoosh of windsurfing as well as percussion samples Matt collected during his years of traveling. Continuing in this vein, the impressive beast of a song "Nuclear Dragon" features an African balafon deftly played by Matt and "Lean Into It" opens with a sample of Pygmy water drumming from the Congo. Lyrically, Pleasure Island tackles on a variety of topics. As Haleh says, "there are love songs, relationship songs, songs about calming the mind. Then there's 'Nuclear Dragon' that's about a series of sculptures in NYC, one of which is of a saint slaying a dragon that is actually made of defunct American and Russian nuclear missles. 'Temptation' meanwhile is about a most unsexy phenomenon, hydraulic fracking, and was inspired by Josh Fox's documentary. It's very important to me though that the lyrics remain musical and unobtrusive even when they're about weighty topics. In many ways, the album is about cultivating your own 'Pleasure Island,' inside you and in the world."
Pleasure Island tracklist:
2. Raining Down
3. So Right
5. Breathless We Go
8. All The Way
9. Nuclear Dragon
11. Lean Into It
13. Seas Across Your Mind
Listen to 'Pleasure Island' here: