Monday, 24 March 2014

MUTUAL BENEFIT - Love's Crushing Diamond

Sifting through impending musicians, rock star wannabes and fame-thirsty instrumentalists can for any reviewer be a barren harvest. However, the inevitability of eventually stumbling across the glint of a hidden gem makes the whole process worthwhile. One of these fruits, and a juicy one at that, is Jordan Lee’s Mutual Benefit, and their magnificent forthcoming album Love’s Crushing Diamond.
Lee is not your ordinary recording artist. Seeking out few concrete band members and making sweet music together is apparently not enough for the Texas-based musician; instead he finds consistency, paradoxically, in the transitory ebb and flow of an amorphous collective. And surely there is no better way? The combining of musical threads from place to place is sure to produce a sound richer and more cultured than your average acoustic folk band. Christened Mutual Benefit, Lee’s project has seen countless scene changes and band members galore to reap the wealth of sounds from literally here, there and everywhere.

Recording for Love’s Crushing Diamond began in Texas, the lyrics and composition having been written in St. Louis. The musical roadtrip does not end there; the album was finished in Boston and became the first Bandcamp release to be named ‘Best New Music’ by independent music critics at Pitchfork. The ephemeral collaborations are reflected in the album’s silver-tongued fluidity; the track ‘Advanced Falconry’ blends strands of poignant violin, and soft fading voices oscillate between higher and lower registers. The quality of sound here is exquisite, and faintly resemblent of some of Radiohead’s finer tracks. Lee uses this seven-song reverie to contemplate life, love and its crushing splendour; amongst the hues of sobriety come the gentle tides of optimism. In ‘Let’s Play/Statue of a Man, Lee croons ‘there’s always love when you think there’s none to give’.  Complimented by the orchestral backdrop of gentle acoustics, the delicate fragility of the album is haunting to the ears. This is not to say the songs lack power; in fact, they are intensely warming in their light, summery harmonies. ‘C. L. Rosarian’ is intense and emotional, yet in an understated manner, whilst the nostalgia of ‘Golden Wake’ strikingly rings through the steady percussion.This baroque-folk collection features Lee’s voice at the core, heightened and intensified by the instrumental prowess of his collaborators, making Love’s Crushing Diamond a true amalgamation of talents.

Words - Claudia Turnbull