em one en kay – m1nk (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Want a quick review of m1nk’s debut album? Sultry!

Oh, you want more, how about…really sultry. 

Okay, I’ll play nice, but as opening track Some Elusive floats from your speakers, no other word is sufficient to describe this dark and slightly dangerous vibe, this weave of the illicit and the exciting, this transient and intangible drift of emotion and allure. And right from this point you know that you are going to find yourself hopelessly love with their exotic, pan-European, musical ways. And I use that term purposefully as there is something particularly central European to the music, something that sounds as if it has evolved in the back streets of an alternative Berlin, which paints dystopian soundscapes across a backdrop of post-war decay yet also looks into the dark future suggested in the creations of Fritz Lang and Philip K Dick. It is urban music but the city it exists in feels like a China Mieville creation sitting somewhere between now and never…at least hopefully never.

And like the shifting timeline it calls home, there are also some strange musical blends going on here. Devil Under is a Patti Smith-esque poetic dirge yet less explosive, less bombastic than her approach, more sleazy and sensuous. Sex has always sold music but rather than the one-dimensional titillation and cartoon tease that is the usual cheap offering, the songs here are genuinely erotic, built as much through sonic building blocks as excitement and expectation.

eBomb is a warped collection of claustrophobic rhythms and tightly coiled riffs, Far Side falls somewhere between a love letter and a suicide note and Halo Effect is a desperate scattering of sounds and urges, as beguiling as it is incomprehensible. Between these songs the album wanders through gothic desolation and industrial noise, dark ethereality and cinematic minimalism. Its anti-heroes stagger along poorly lit midnight streets, wait in shadowed door ways and slide into warm beds and even warmer embraces. It’s Nick Cave without the religious imagery, Patti Smith distilled to her very essence but it also seems to conjure references from beyond the musical crucible too, David Lynch, Salvador Dali, William Burroughs and Francis Bacon all seem to wander through the background of the songs, unacknowledged but ever-present. 

As debut albums go it is nothing short of a triumph. It is dark and mysterious, non-conformist, sexy, full of the darkest of humour and the lightest of musical touches, it is out of time, linking a perhaps past with a possible future, it is intimate and grandiose, weird but wonderfully accessible. Well, not accessible to everyone, you have to be a little out there to relate to m1nk in the first place but who wants to hang out with people who aren’t at least a little strange in their own sweet way? Not me, that’s for sure.

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