by Kevin Boyle
The New York music scene has been at the cutting edge of American music for an insanely long time, (example: The New York Dolls were punk before The Sex Pistols). The city has a great tradition of experimentation: how else can The Strokes, Interpol, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs come out of the same scene and sound completely unique from each other? The Mast, an electronic duo from Brooklyn, made up of multi-instrumentalist Matt Kilmer and singer Haleh Gafori, aim to continue this great tradition.
Beginning with their debut album, 2011's Wild Poppies, The Mast marked themselves from other emerging two-piece bands of the time with the sheer originality of their music. Beginning in a more traditional musical template than the band would eventually adopt, Wild Poppies is an elemental album propelled by subtle guitar riffs and varied forms of percussion, all of which aid of Haleh Gafori siren-like vocals. Highlights of the album include: the hypnotic title track, the Stone Roses aping "The Prize," and "Hummingbird" if you want your Kate Bush fix.
Their latest album, Pleasure Island, marks a turning point for the duo. Based much more in electronica, Kilmer has found yet more ways to propel Gafori's spectral vocals into the ether. Album opener "Luxor" should be held as a mission statement of the bands bravery and variety, "Nuclear Dragon" is the kind of oddity that you didn't know you wanted until you heard it, and "Breathless We Go," despite being an awesome name for a song, proves that the duo are at ease with their new sound.
So, within the bands career they have produced two compelling albums of different genres. Who knows what they will come up with next, maybe a jazz funk acid album in 2016. They could probably pull it off.