Cinema Cinema unleash a noisy work of art on Mjölnir, their new full-length featuring the polymath Thor Harris throughout it, which sees the act expanding on their abrasive yet oddly catchy outlook on what music can be.
I’ve gotten some pretty damn excellent stuff served to me on a silver platter this year, namely by means of being asked to scribe premieres for things that I’m ‘guaranteed to like’ quite a few times. The material has ranged from experimental meltdowns to utter mindfucks and everything in between, and I’ve truly gathered some gems to my weekly rotation that way. One such artist was Cinema Cinema, for whom I wrote a song/video piece last month, and knew right there on the spot that I need to dig deeper into them and their new album Mjölnir, which is coming out on July 14 via Nefarious Industries. The art/noise punk cousin duo is joined by the multi-instrumentalist Thor Harris for the entirety of the record, and if you need any additional info to pique your interest, let me tell you that it’s one fucking excellent album.
For the longest time I’ve adored the boundless chameleon nature found amidst the noise rock realm, as in that particular foundry, different aesthetics and stylistic leanings melt together surprisingly easily to produce completely new type of elements that share similar hues and undertones, yet each flourish in their own right. Cinema Cinema is one of these products straight from the smelter, unifying the mentioned genres and more to become an entity of their own, with signature edge and hooks that are truly captivating as they are gripping and grating.
But what makes Mjölnir tick the way it does? The inclusion of Harris surely adds a lot of gravitas to Cinema Cinema‘s output and brings in quite a bit of left-field ideas and angles, but it isn’t him alone of course. When listening to the act’s previous doings, it’s clear that Mjölnir falls in line as a seamless continuation of what they were, yet expanding to unforeseen frontiers that feel both familiar and completely remote at the same time. Even if the most out-there ideas might feel distant at first, the intimate production brings them up close, tying together the open-ended threads that otherwise could’ve been a mess, and the biggest reason to why everything clicks so well is thanks to the unison ambiance, most certainly extending to Martin Bisi’s production and Fred Kevorkian’s mastering works. Still, obviously nothing would be what it is if it weren’t for Cinema Cinema‘s core pair Ev Gold and Paul clearly knowing what they’re doing.
Mjölnir‘s main strength lies in how grounded it is, being simultaneously mighty yet fragile, fully absorbing the listener. This becomes clear right from the opening seconds of “This Dream”, a fever dream-esque, malformed intro of sorts that relies on harshly spoken vocals and continuously cascading synths, with the spaces in between being filled with squeaks and tingles, fittingly introducing the shiver-inducing, chilling ambiance that dictates most of the album tonally. The steady gait of “War on You” is a bit of a surprise after the more picturesque first track, but picking up the pace and amping up the intensity is a great move that really kicks the album into gear. Followed with the excellent “Walk Into the Ocean” that we premiered earlier, you can notice that Cinema Cinema has a kind of a one-movement approach to their songs, which not only creates an exquisite tandem between briskness and monotony, but generates a sense of individualism in the process, making every song stand out in their own particular ways.
I’m not one to compare anyone to anything, and usually steer clear from that, but I’m making an exception now by saying that many of the components on Mjölnir bring to mind the shenanigans of one Nick Cave, mainly due to the contemporary nature of the instrumentation and vocal style. I’m not saying that Cinema Cinema would be a copy of Cave’s doings or anything of the sort, but there’s a very particular kind of eery resemblance at times, which should honestly draw you in more than it should deter you. Thor Harris is to Cinema Cinema what Warren Ellis is to Nick Cave, and regardless of the parallels, the outcome is something extraordinary. The fourth track, the near eight-minute “Zero Sum” is a nail to this particular coffin of proving a point, also being a definitive early high point on the album. It’s pretty swell that song lengths don’t matter, as it again underlines the mentioned personalities ingrained in each song in a positive fashion. The longer ones such as this one and the closer “Idaho” blossom in their amorphous mien, providing some unexpected moments that I let you to discover yourself upon listening to Mjölnir.
While Mjölnir is nothing if not an entirety, I must say that the album hits its most refined stride on its second half. If the first four songs offer a glance into Cinema Cinema‘s internal world, it’s the lattet four that expand it and truly show their colours in their singular spectrum. Especially “Info Ghetto” and “My Vision of the Future” hit like a freight train would, and when put into context, really elevate Mjölnir as a whole. What’s perhaps the most positive angle in the rear-heavy approach and execution, is that as soon as the album ends, you get a strong inkling to just listen to it again. There’s a proper chance you’ll end up finding youself in a never-ending loop with it.
On Mjölnir, Cinema Cinema have hit their personal pinnacle for the time being, with the helping hand of Thor Harris stirring the pot quite efficiently. The album is immediate, regardless of its sometimes rather poignantly emphasised artsyness. However, and this bears importance, it doesn’t swank with it, nor is it pompous in the slightest. It has just the right amount of shit stench and aggression to it to make it stick, and I wouldn’t mind it if Cinema Cinema continued in this trio form from here on out. Mjölnir is an effective body of work that will hopefully reach the eyes and ears of anyone even remotely invested in all things thrilling and noisy by nature.