Mock Sun is a band that defies easy categorization. The best you could do is call it “experimental music,” but doing that does the Wilkes-Barre based duo (consisting of vocalist Jami Kali and multi-instrumentalist Mark Wohl) a great disservice.
There tends to be a half-true belief among casual listeners that “experimental” often translates to “unlistenable, overly intellectual noise.” Fortunately, on the band’s long-awaited first full-length, “Hungry Mother” (officially out this Friday), Mock Sun always retains a strong sense of soul, melody, and emotional intensity.
It’s not dance floor music, admittedly, but, as threads of dissonance weave between heady layers of acoustic rawness and electronic ambience, the energies unleashed stay fully focused on slinking into your skin, through your pores, into your blood, to make you move your body.
Tracks such as “Cosmic Infinite Departure” and “Dr. Gnostic” transition from jaunty to urgent to melancholy on a dime, all while having a kind of fairground ballyhoo charisma to them. Meanwhile, tracks such as “Wild Eyed Groove” and “While You Were Away” hover in deep-space orbit, emanating sad, funereal menace. Then there are tracks such as “Earth Witness” and “Mind Hive,” which bring the dirty bounce of grunge and classic blues to the fore.
Throughout, Wohl builds a nuanced, jazz-inspired latticework soundscape of shimmery guitar and tribal rhythms, which acts as a trampoline launching Kali’s hallucinogenic lyrics and hypnotic vocals – a mix of Edie Brickell, Shannon Hoon, and Layne Staley – into the stratosphere.
The overall sound is a slippery, genre-bending fever dream of folk, twee-pop and psychedelia peppered with spoken word passages and mind-altering production effects. Staunchly defying easy categorization, the best way to describe “Hungry Mother” is simply as a twisting, haunting, sensual masterpiece.
Mock Sun ‘Hungry Mother’ Rating: W W W W V
-Bill Thomas, Weekender Correspondent