A quick read of No Clear Mind’s Facebook description, which comes complete with a pseudo-dictionary definition and phrases such as ‘an open platform of expression, bringing together people who tint every-day inertia, canceling its discreet yet lingering nature’, probably won’t sit too well with a lot of people, and outside of a brief mention of the ’70s, doesn’t really paint a vivid picture of their sound either. To the uninitiated, the words that surround Mets straddle a wiry line somewhere between grand concept and pretentious extravagance, but to the band, Mets is the result of a painstaking and laborious effort that took years to craft, with a cohesive narrative built around the collective identity of human beings and where every facet and every detail has been meticulously fussed over until it satisfies Vasilis Dokakis’ lofty standards.
And once taken in, it’s hard not to see things through Dokakis’ eyes, mostly because Mets is a positively cinematic experience that demands complete indulgence, but also because the emotive nature of the music is so hauntingly captivating. Opener ‘When You Sat By Your Window Pane’ channels those aforementioned ’70s influences, with Dark Side-era Pink Floyd chord progressions built up with layers of hazy keyboards and reverb-laden, unconstrained guitar picks melding together to create some kind of progressive post-rock metropolis. ‘Fall Down/Rise Up’continues in the same vein, soaring to euphoric highs from the ashes of a melancholy piano and light strings. Each track drips with this tangible sadness, a self-described sonic ‘depiction of past memories and emotional states’.
It’s not until ‘When You’re Not Here’ that we really see Dokakis’ vision in full technicolor glory, however. Deep baritone vocals drift in amongst the minimal backdrop, beautifully executed with the same tonal and introspective qualities as a Leonard Cohen or a Matt Berninger. Its impact is amplified further by the fact that there are no decipherable vocals at all in the opening four tracks, with the pained delivery of ‘I spend my evenings down the riverside, my favourite place when you’re not here’ towering above the light guitars and patient feedback with such piercing veracity that it’s obviously another one of Dokakis’ considered decisions. As expected by now, it progresses into a stirring orchestral finale, with all manner of instruments joining the fray in what can only be described as organised chaos. Only ‘Babel’, a jittery exploration of unusual rhythmicity, and closer ‘Coda’, a shuffling, string-heavy jaunt deviate from this satisfying approach to the song-writing.
It’s always difficult to fully decipher records that have, as No Clear Mind describe, ‘strong autobiographical elements’, as it involves a lot of guesswork and assumptions. Apparently, the song titles are key here, so some kind of thought-process can be picked up from the forlorn nature of ‘When You Sat By Your Window Pane’, ‘Morning Rain in June’, ‘When You’re Not Here’ and ‘Troubled Stroll’, as well as the ambiguity of‘Babel’ and ‘Coda’. I like to think of them as big-picture thinkers, creating the soundtrack to millions of people going about their business in all walks of life, like some kind of mass social experiment. Perhaps, through all the crescendos and sorrow, Mets just best serves as a reminder that we’re probably better off sticking together.
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