No Mas Bodas – Flesh (self-released)
by Princess Stomper
For my next trick, I’m going to spend your money*.
First of all, I’d like you to buy the Buke and Gass album, Riposte. You’ll thank me for this – it sounds magical. It reaches into a great big sonic hat and pulls out … a white rabbit! You’ll never have heard anything quite like it – a marvel! An intrigue! And then, for their next song, they reach into the hat and pull out … a brown rabbit. By the third or fourth song, you’ll know perfectly well that it’s going to be bunnies all the way. Being inordinately fond of twitchy noses and tickly whiskers, this is what I mean by a very good album.
Now I want you to buy the Sufjan Stevens album, The Age Of Adz. For his first trick, he reaches into the hat and pulls out … a small bunny. Then a horse. By the last track, he pulls out a whale. Complete with ocean.
After hearing just a couple of songs by No Mas Bodas, the question was whether Flesh would be great, or simply very good. At only five tracks, this EP makes a brief, fair stab at bringing forth the contents of Noah’s Ark. This is something of a relief to me, since I get awfully frustrated with very good albums. I’m sure Buke and Gass would be cursing my name by now if they’d ever heard of me, and I felt that frustration with Battles, too, before they acquitted themselves admirably with Gloss Drop (you need to buy that too) – the feeling of, “|Yes, that was amazing – but I want to see something besides bunnies next time. Can you manage a squirrel?”
I’m not even sure what you’d call the menagerie that No Mas Bodas are pulling from their headgear – they’re a little bit Pram, a little bit Danielle Dax, and even slightly reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux’s Creatures. The setup is broadly indie-experimental, a little bit electronic, with an eclectic array of instruments such as cello and saxophone thrown in. There’s that Buke and Gass playfulness; that Sufjan Stevens thoughtfulness. It’s mentally satisfying, complicated music with a real emotional core – they know music, and they feel music. The music twists and shifts with delicate, tricky rhythms and brittle melodies. It’s as wilfully odd as The Monsoon Bassoon, and as comfortably enjoyable as that Nicola Roberts single. What’s most gratifying is that they’re a different kind of weird on every track.
‘Quicksand’ is all jittery beats and wayward strings, with Kristina Boswell’s vocals sounding fragile and disjointed. ‘Carousel’ is funkier and more confident, cruising on the back of a distorted guitar riff.
Title track ‘Flesh’ punches through on a four-to-the-floor beat; part trip-hop, part darkwave. Gothic disco as imagined by the beautiful and strange, rather than middle-aged accountants with a PVC fetish. ‘Jungle’ is world music for some fantasy realm, a sax-riddled trek – a little bit threatening, but still inviting. ‘Ocean’ sounds cool and breezy, its shuffling rhythms overlaid with steady layers of brass, woodwind and synths. It’s relaxing, but hardly background music.
Flesh is the kind of release that makes you feel privileged to hear it – and it’s not the first or even second time I’ve felt that way about music in the past year. Just knowing that there’s music this good out there makes me feel thankful, relieved, and a little bit spoiled.
*It’s in a good cause: Brassland, Warp and Asthmatic Kitty were among the labels whose stock was destroyed in the PIAS fire.