Mi Ami Steal Your Face

[Thrill Jockey; 2010]

Styles: neo-dub/post-Lagos ecstatic noise dance
Others: Teeth Mountain, Pterodactyl, These Are Powers, Explode Into Colors

Maybe I need to crush some Ritalin to calm me down, but every time I hear Mi Ami, I imagine the dude on the cover of Strut’s Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos compilation zooming down the street like Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, with Peter Tosh’s machinegun-guitar slung over his shoulder on his way to treat a dance floor like a warzone. This dude ain’t out to rub-a-dub, but to mash up on the hyper-beat, freak the fuck out, and get gone like the character in the Grateful Dead song from which Steal Your Face takes its name.

This is Mi Ami’s second long-player, and they’ve managed to sustain the intensity of both albums in addition to the few rippin’ EPs and singles released so far. Most listeners got their first taste of Mi Ami’s Lagos-inspired, percussion-centric, math-screech, neo-dub aesthetic from 2008’s African Rhythms 12-inch. The title track on that release made the kids go nuts and beg for more, lured in smoothly by the groove and then jacked up to infinity by fuming sonic-booms, tribal trance-sweats, and post-dancehall vocal-mystification.

While 2009’s Watersports contained some untamable bangers, nothing has threatened to dethrone “African Rhythms” quite like “Latin Lover” from Steal Your Face. The guitar riff cuts like a razor along the steady drum (Damon Palermo) and bass (Jacob Long) foundation, while ex-Black Eyes member Daniel Martin-McCormick wastes no time tearing into the mix with his most-high-up lyrical assault. The track is an unstoppable dance/sex-facilitator, with Martin-McCormick making Whitney Houston seem like a virgin when he screeches “I wanna dance with somebody/ I wanna feel the heat with somebody.” I could be wrong about the source, but it sounds like Martin-McCormick transforms his guitar into a death-ray love-gun that shoots explosive lightsaber-darts to amp up the club-rage, delivering the final blow to the once supreme and previously uncontested “African Rhythms.”

While over half of Steal Your Face’s 37 minutes is made up of absolutely uncontainable and terrifying energy, Mi Ami understands the importance of diversifying the pace just as they did on Watersports, kindly slowing down the train just enough to prevent it from burning up and/or derailing. Both “Dreamers” and “Native Americans (Born In the U.S.A.)” cool out the flames and provide the perfect amount of reflective space for shaking off the bad trips before the engine revs back up. It’s important to note, though, that the pace of the latter track — which glistens with guitar feedbacking and buzzing noise-phases — is only slow relative to other Mi Ami tunes, but about 80 times more enraged than almost every popular indie/naptime band.

Despite all its goodness and lunacy, Steal Your Face is not a record that is likely to find itself touching the needle very often. It doesn’t beg for repeat listens, simply because most normal human beings aren’t able to handle the speed and sonically-pulverizing vibe. This may say more about the contemporary mode of listening in the world than it does the sounds themselves. And while the uniqueness of Martin-McCormick’s voice is initially fascinating, perfectly matching up with the instrumental aspects of Mi Ami’s aesthetic, it often slips into the annoying category. But maybe this, too, is not a valid complaint. For, if you’re looking for an ephemeral blast of energy that is sure to push any dance floor to its breaking point, then Steal Your Face might soon become your go-to record to get the mash up started.

Links: Mi Ami - Thrill Jockey

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