Queensland Ballroom – Jason Herring and The Mystery Plan (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Jason_Herring_&_The_Mystery_Plan_(cover)At a point where music bleeds into pure emotion, where sound becomes atmosphere, where songs are less about sonic structure and lyrical message and more about painting washed out, night time vistas and seem to suggest other dimensions encroaching on our own world, you find the music of Jason Herring and The Mystery Plan. Those who like labels might toy with dream-folk, cinematic soundscaping, ambient electronica and a whole host of irrelevant labels, irrelevant because this is music so unique, so of its self, that whatever clever and convoluted label you could come up would only ever be needed to encapsulate this one band, so what’s the point?

It is also music which shifts and shimmers, jumps generic divides and refuses to conform. Whilst songs such as The Golden Moon and The Silvery Sea, evokes some sort of hazy, 60’s baroque pop that forces night club grooves and soulful psychedelia to get better acquainted, the title track feels like a soundtrack to a futuristic horror movie and the oddly named Oola Heatray is nothing less than a reimagining of the sound palette of Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds! Yet some how they all sound like they belong on the same album, brothers in arms bonded by their strange exploratory nature and sense of being apart from the world as most of us know it.

Part of the charm of the record is the accompanying remixes, a term which normally sends shivers up my spine and braces me for a tsunami of unnecessary, clattering beats added by a “celebrity” DJ to negative effect but here living up to the broadest sense of the term and offering up whole new renditions of some of the songs. The titular creeping menace becomes a slick alternative soul-pop groover and the edgy electro-swirl of Vampires Are Lucky spawns parallel careers as both a subdued doomy disco war dance and a West Coast jazz-soul soundtrack. That’s what re-mixes are all about.

There is also room for fractured, classical grandeur in the form of Where Did You Go? and the whole thing bows out with a wash of drifting melancholy and post-everything ambient noise which somehow seems perfect as a crescendo of strangeness. And as that fades you sit and muse as to what just happened, you don’t really understand what went on but all you know is that you want to play it again. It’s good that there are still some mysteries in the world…right?

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