By Brian Tucker
Experimental rock band Mazlow is having a CD release show Saturday at The Calico Room in downtown Wilmington with three other acts (see flyer below). Cost is $5 and attendees get a free copy of the band’s new EP Infrared.
A relatively new band in the area, Mazlow marries emotionally driven hard rock music with restraint and moments of combustible intensity, all seemingly carefully considered for maximum effect. It works well. Across four tracks on Infrared the band builds an endearing and massive sonic palette. Whether buzzing guitar work or thumping percussion, these four songs maintain individuality but ultimately make for an EP that feels likes two halves.
Done within the hard rock genre, material oscillates between epic sounding to moments briefly exploratory, like the beginning of “J.R. Reid” or Justin Clark’s staccato drumming and Royal Hooper’s guitar interplay a quarter of the way into “In Wires.” It’s there that the song breaks for something moving – Josh Ausband’s searing and soaring vocals. He goes from warm and enveloping to something caustic, adding dual personalities to an already frenetic song.
It’s an interesting combination – coarse, ripping guitar work (Ausband and Royal Hooper both on guitar) and vocals that coolly soar but can, on an emotional dime, scorch everything. Ausband is careful in this regard, never overdoing anything by serving the song and not his prowess. Musically, Mazlow really shines on “In Wires,” a song deftly going from calm to erratic.
“In Wires” is a song that must really come alive performed live. From its opening with echo-sounding, rippling guitar playing and Chris Stellaccio’s gentle bass, it’s a song feeling its way along, building and burning. Ausband sings casually, building and will ultimately explode briefly throughout, coming in to shock then disappear.
The band does well keeping things off-balance (case in point “J.R. Reid”) while shaping a mini-epic with the four-song EP. These are songs that range from five minutes to the nearly eight minute title track. The result is something that ignores convention and breeds imagination within the listener, songs more atypical than experimental, though that description is still apt.
The album’s lack of convention allows it to be a repeat player, whereby you hear more along the way. For an EP with shades of Pink Floyd’s dreamy qualities and Alice in Chains’ rugged and chaotic delivery, Mazlow, for all their edge and ferocity, has crafted for the hard rock fans and for prog rock fans alike.