Mangled Bohemians, “At The Edge of Earth”

September 20, 2011
By Chris Trowell

Driven by a placid intensity, ‘Mangled Bohemians’ drain folk and psychedelic music of its collective connotations, their hushed sound instead relying upon repetition and loose ambience to evoke wary joy and noncommittal sublime. Composing primarily for acoustic guitar, the duo concentrate on yearning drones and folk atmospherics, utilising the guitar’s collateral sounds, string hum and amplifier resonance, to engage with the psychedelic and folk idioms whilst replacing their visceral associations with more subdued references.

On the most striking tracks, The Long Way Down’s tender finger-picking or Psychic Mumble’s multi-tracked vocals and sharp harmonics, the pair produce a beautiful inertia; elongated ebbs and flows poised mid-air in a considered ambient psychedelia, quietly forming melodies and searching for ideas.

Yet the low points of the record, vague raga-lite tones or the bland lead guitar of Ashes to Silence (any sense of experimentation reduced to a lazy fuzz wah-wah), see the earnest guitar work, striving for languid, introspective and powerful, merely rendered flat and dull. Towards the end of these admittedly short sections I found myself hoping for anything to de-stabilise the static sounds employed so effectively elsewhere; a sudden tempo increase or playful, out of place chord to alleviate the neutrality.

Regardless of these sporadic moments spent craving a sense of unpredictability or overt exploration, ‘Mangled Bohemians’ mostly succeed in their meanderings through folk and psychedelic music, carving a distinctive sound and attitude for future work.

Aphonia

6/10

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