4 out of 5
Label: Hydra Head Records
Produced by: Mamiffer, Chris Common (engineered by)
Assessed from the quantitative output of a certain style of her work, I have no doubt that Faith Coloccia “found” her voice as an artist the further and further away she got from traditional musical structure and into more experimental works. Not that she’s been without that influence from the start, as the freeflow of Everylovely Lightningheart gave way to a similar open-endedness (and embracing of noise) when she morphed that into Mamiffer’s debut album. But that debut – Hirror Ennifer – seemed to be the first and last version of a true post-rock / post-metal Coloccia we got, partnering with such notable artists from the field as Chris Common, Brian Cook, Annie Hozoi Matheson-Margullis, Ryan Frederkson, and Aaron Turner, though some would continue to be part of the band as it evolved further into exploratory soundscapes.
…Which can be all kinds of interesting, and heavy, and beautiful, but I am a sucker for solid instrumental post-rock, and Hirror Enniffer offers up a very particular and intriguing version of that, specific to Coloccia’s style while also crafting bite-sized, catchy 5ish minute collaborations of moody piano, precise percussion, and fascinating effects. While the keys are almost always at the forefront, the gist of tracks varies from Tori Amos-ish, vamp-y melodies to distant static (Death Shawl like a never tuned-in radio station) to Memorial-era Russian Circles, and even touches on a folk influence on closer Cyhraeth. That said, there are no exact “hooks” or build-ups to these tracks; vocals are only used as another layer, hardly discernible, and anything that feels like it’s aiming for some ultimate moment is really just being allowed to find its way through a “conversation” of beats and tunefulness. That’s very much a plus in the album’s uniqueness, and adds an edginess to it, but it’s also what prevents it from being perfect, as tracks, in that sense, come across as offhand thoughts, almost. They just happened to be expertly performed thoughts.
I do wish I lived in a world where this iteration of Mamiffer continued for a few albums more, but I accept Coloccia had to follow her muse elsewhere. I’m glad it landed, however temporarily, in the realm of Hirror Enniffer, producing one of the more enduring and unique post-rock albums to date.