Album Review: Mediated Involutions | The Milgram Reverie
About a year ago, the Sanctum was discovering the sound of The Milgram Reverie, a wayward blend of the modern and the ancient, breeding the US-born Rock with Eastern sounds, creating this exotic ‘child’ that belongs everywhere and nowhere. A nomad walking the continents, searching for answers to the most esoteric questions. I’m more than excited to follow the second chapter of this journey, titled ‘Mediated Involutions' knowing that the questions will be more than the answers. Pressing Play >
‘Hypnopomp’ immediately sent me onto the golden sands of India, to witness ceremonies so mystical, far beyond gods and religions as we know them. The beguiling santoor is our guide to spirituality while dramatic strings and majestic percussion elevate the experience to a divine level. It’s one of those times when words are little to express the splendour and impact of an art piece and I’m not sure how ‘Hypnopomp’ can be done justice. The -far more- earthly ‘Mediated Reality’ follows with powerful drums turning the mood 180 degrees. A Rock track to its core but with a gentle approach instrumental-wise, exhibiting airy elements as well as a vocal performance that feels comforting instead of intense. It’s very interesting how the opening of ‘Mediated Reality’ prepares the listener for something more neurotic than what it actually is. The same does not apply to ‘The Primrose Path of Tradgedy of Hope’ which ends up being exactly what it promises to be. In here we find some old-school Rock qualities together with contemporary Metal and -allow me to sense- a touch of breakbeat (?) but let’s take it as a personal perception. The undeniable winners here are the clean production of the drums and the sharp electric guitar shining like a freshly polished blade of a sword.
The moment I’m starting to think how the last couple of tracks feel irrelevant to the opening of Mediated Involutions, the melancholic ‘Lady of the Stars’ and ‘Mechanical Materialism’ somehow came to bridge this space between nerve and spirituality. The first one is a poetic entry with underlying strokes of Folk, cleverly building itself up with layers of keys and strings only to reach a fiery bridge towards its end. Even though ’Lady of the Stars’ is a ‘low profile’ track, it’s definitely the soft power in this album and a couple of repetitions will convince you. As for the second, ‘Mechanical Materialism’, it does the job even more thoroughly, uniting two opposite worlds into a stunning hybrid, a transcending dance in history and time, between Drums and Diruba. However there’s one element that took some of the magic away for me personally and that’s the autotune-style effect used on the verses which seems to draw the attention to the wrong place. Still, considering that it has been used in the verses of previous tracks too, it’s obviously a direction chosen by the artist so it’s only respected.
Now, ‘Eternity in your Hands’ makes for a 5-minute musical adventure, a glorious instrumental made of everything we’ve heard so far, possibly acting as a transition between the first and second half of Mediated Involutions. Not a standout but it definitely serves its purpose gracefully. Now, among the most pop moments of the album goes ‘Temporal Empire’, which gives off a sense of longing yet might leave one with neutral feelings. But only until they reach 3:36 where we have an unexpected turn of events. The music instantly transfers the listener into an abundant oasis in the middle of a desert where the line between imagination and reality is unclear. A mesmerising progression that makes for one of the most memorable moments of this album. As the exotic closure of ‘Temporal Empire’ fades into ‘Chronotropes’ the vibes gets darker with mumbling bass, restless drums and nostalgic chords free-styling into -what feels like- an inner emotional outburst. Films about oppressed characters dealing with their personal demons would make an ideal visualization of ‘Chronotropes’ and same applies to ‘Depersonalization’ if not more.
‘Who are you today?’ asks the author as chords and strings are crying over the futility of existence, the detachment of the self, the suppressed emotional world. Seductively depressing, hopelessly romantic and ultimately personal, ‘Depersonalization’ is a gem hidden close to the end of this tracklist but even closer to my personal top faves of this LP. The enigmatic chorus ‘Propaganda is the cure for loneliness’ as well as the sensuous -to say the least- violin are the strongest points of the Ancient Greek-titled ‘Panacea’, meaning ‘cure for everything’. Four minutes into the track before the melody catches fire, awaking a primal instinct to get up and belly-dance like there’s no tomorrow. Another transcending experience. At this point I’m thinking that the success of this album is the way the tracks are transforming themselves the best ways possible, when you least expect it. The album is turning its lights off with the mighty ‘Assymetrical Lorefare’, a brother to ‘Temporal Empire’ genre-wise but with a more infectious chorus. As a man born in the late 80’s, inspired by music of 99-00’s, I couldn’t help comparing ‘Temporal Empire’ to ‘The Call’ by Backstreet Boys, a rock-influenced, super hit song back then. Funny or not, the vocal delivery resemblance together with rhythm similarities are there! A fair ending for an album as powerful as ‘Mediated Involutions’.
Going back to the Sanctum’s first review of the band, I realize that I could never describe their sound more accurately and so I will shamelessly repeat once more that: The Milgram Reverie exhibit an atypical approach to rock music, elevating it to an airspace that feels primeval, hallowed and forbidden without losing its human hypostasis whatsoever. As for their sophomore, Mediated Involutions is more than proof of their unique vision, passion and dedication. It’s a sign that not everything is what it appears to be and time may bring the most precious of things as long as we are patient enough to savor them. And this blog will always be looking forward to digging out the next treasure chest by The Milgram Reverie. Cheers!
Enjoy Mediated Involutions here: