Mahogany Memory Column

[Darla; 2005]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: dream pop, shoegaze, avant-garde, synth-pop
Others: Broadcast, Cocteau Twins, Stereolab, Yo La Tengo

There are b-side/unreleased compilations and there are b-side/unreleased compilations. Memory Column has put together the best one I've ever heard. I had a hard time explaining to a friend what was so noteworthy about this release. Somehow, we get hung up on albums. Magnum Opuses. Grand 'ol statements. Truth is, we want good songs. Momentous songs. Songs that capture a fine mood or two or three or more... What's extraordinary about Memory Column is that it's a truly delectable series of these moments. Most b-side/unreleased/hard-to-find comps tend to be dubious fodder for fanbase. While this two-disc collection may fit that mold, it's got enough fresh and enticingly pseudo-intangible songs to satisfy any old ephemera hound.

This collection is rife with a delicate, breezy kind of mystery that lightly kisses the ears and stirs the soul. It's sun-sliver music for the gloomy seasons; a fingernail of gauze amidst a vast blanket of ice. While the sound may not lie in necessarily unfamiliar territory, its production mastery makes it significantly more endearing than your average Cocteau Twins-inspired dream-pop recording. Each song is as seamless and essential as the last. The pristine sonic perfection makes you forget just how simple and repetitive the melodies are, and you find yourself lucidly lost in their softly popping miniature reveries.

Two highlights are "Semaphore Streamlines" and "Metro." These tracks seem to exemplify Mahogany's zeal for tipping the dream-pop, art-pop facades into something undeniably transporting. The latter example is a low cloud, chiming lightning progression amidst zipping sunrise traffic. Its chilly, simplistic melodic structure is sweetly infused with gentle woodwind swells. The former is a short, melodica-led, furiously-guitar-strummed track that gallops along with a lean kick beat. Its minimalist strut exemplifies what makes these songs so cool. The band employs degrees of subtlety and finesse unheard of in a genre so preoccupied with instant whirl-ification. Shoegaze hasn't been this enticing in quite a while.

It's unfortunate that their next full-length got jacked (along with a good deal of the band's equipment) at a show in Brooklyn last month. This is most certainly a band that should press on despite these disheartening setbacks. As these twenty songs will show, Mahogany are definitely onto something. While Memory Column may not exactly be a classic, these odds and ends reflect a well-tuned collaborative creativity too slyly potent to be ignored.

Song Cycle No.1
1. Amelia No. 2
2. Nelly Van Doesburg
3. Lynn Minmay
4. Il Dynamo De Luce
5. Altima Futura Automaton
6. Aetherophone
7. The Age of Rectangles
8. In Fulfillment of the Enthusiastic
9. The Singing Arc-Lamp
10. Metro
Song Cycle No.2

1. Mindful Contradiction
2. Light Will Deserve a Place
3. Cloudless
4. Wagon-Lits
5. Stutter-Movement
6. Semaphore Streamlines
7. L'Ephemere Est Eternal
8. Bunker Soldiers
9. Sophie Taueber-Arp
10. Accelerations