New York City’s experimental groove rock trio Carbon Mirage is one of those ridiculously underrated discoveries that fell into my aural scope by a miracle of virtual serendipity (The internet is a marvelous beast). Back in March, we premiered the band’s “Castle Greyskull” single, a devious pile-up of progressive jazz melodies set to a doom-looming backdrop of erratic drum and bass. Now we have the extreme pleasure of premiering the single’s accompanying EP Cloud Hatch, four prodigiously full-figured tracks that aptly showcase Carbon Mirage’s superb balance of jazz, math rock, hard-soul, and metal. It’s their audacious melding of disparate styles and soundscapes that warrant a comparison to Hiatus Kaiyote, but where frontwoman Nai Palm’s celestial, soul-soaked vocals often propel the groups’s songs, Carbon Mirage’s instrumental aptitude is wisely elevated to the fore. Up until recently, their music never afforded such attention to the human voice. But they don’t designate a lead vocalist. Instead, each band member lends their voice, often instigated in unison as a formidable chorus of similarly sounding tenors.
You can hear it on “Snake Charmer,” the treacherously winding and trance-like opener on Cloud Hatch. True to its title, the song is a vaulting, serpentine track that progresses calmly, cooly, before letting loose entirely. The eruptive aftermath is rollicking: an abrasively hyperactive drum cadence, a seductive and surging bassline, a spastic Roman candle riff of searing guitar. “Don’t worry it’s all right,” they holler above the chaos, “This snake is poison but it won’t bite.” Their voices entangle to construct a wide layer of salient melody, clashing hard against the calamitous uproar.
Following “Snake Charmer” and the infectious grind of “Castle Greyskull,” “Broken Wing” is positioned as Cloud Hatch‘s third, and undoubtedly its heaviest, track. Carey Clayton’s ghoulish, slow-swaggering guitar trudges along until interrupted by vocal lines, rhythmically unconventional verses that precisely parallel the ensuing melodic arrangements. “Broken Wing” is complex, vexed, a towering, city-block-stomping number that slowly unravels greater nuance and heightened sensory details throughout its expansive six minutes.
Closing track “Follow Me” is enough to stop you dead in your tracks and reconsider everything you thought you knew about this terribly talented trio. From the initial introverted groove of Ricky Petraglia’s polyphonic pattering to James Quinlan’s mean-mugging, four-alarm-fire synths, “Follow Me” is a hypnagogic daydream, an expeditious seesawing of emotions conveying alternating shades of bright-eyed optimism and seething despair. “There must be some way outta here,” Carbon Mirage sing amidst an ocean of wailing overdubbed harmonies. The stylistic progression from last year’s LP, The Peak, is impressive, easy to identify as bolder and more dynamic than their previous efforts. Hollowing out a unique space for their band to thrive, these four songs soundtrack the trio coming into their own as musicians and songwriters.
Take the plunge and stream Carbon Mirage‘s Cloud Hatch EP below.