Somehow I end up being the person reviewing releases by other members from our writing staff here at Netlabelism. Perhaps because, as editor, I have a mistaken belief I will be more objective than other writers in this matter. Well, let me make one thing clear right off the bat: I am not objective in this matter at all. I love this release and urge you to mash the download button right away. For those with more than two seconds to spare, let me make it clear why you should do so.
There is a very coherent feel to this release: many tracks are made up from similar building blocks including chopped-up vocals, plucked strings which all sound more toward the sitar/ koto end of the spectrum and syncopated drum lines. This coherent feel is noticeable in Mender’s entire catalogue: similar cover design, great attention to song titles and a propensity for going all over the place, musically speaking.
This can also be seen on Asembulus: every track has its own distinct characteristics. Take for instance the hyperactive rhythm and nods to chiptune in the second track, which also boasts one of the best song titles I’ve seen all year: ‘My Steed is a Fucking Unicorn’. The beautifully distorted synth line which goes for a triple goosebump knockout at 2:29 , 2:58 and 3:20 somehow reminds me of chiptune virtuose gone moody downtempo into jazzy nuttiness Tresk/Trash80. That is a good thing, as I am more than fond of those sounds. A fucking unicorn allright. With all the bragging rights that come with it.
‘Learning in Fives’ is a great instrumental hip-hop track with dub influences and is followed by a masterful dark downtempo track in ‘She’s Got Velvet Organs’.
‘Asembulus’ is a release on par with what we’ve come to expect from Mender based on his earlier work: creativity unbound by rules or expectations, attention to detail and shall we not forget the Fucking Unicorn? Highly recommended.
Mender – My Steed is a Fucking Unicorn
This review was originally published on netlabelism.com, an online music magazine covering netlabel culture and releases. I was editor for the magazine from January 2011 until December 2014.