CD, Mockmoon Records, 2008
I never look forward to reviewing bands with no prior discography, especially when the band is classified, however vaguely, as IDM or experimental, because most of the time they are plain terrible. That being said, I am surprised to find myself reporting that the debut release from MCKMN, entitled “Orphan Ristophe”, is pretty damn good.
I saw somewhere that the band/album was labeled ‘breaks’, and that’s a fairly apt description. Lots of mid-tempo breakbeats used here. The album opens with a couple of forgettable straight-forward breaks tracks. Then for some reason the title track is a slab of somber, epic post-rock. Yes, with guitars and all. Sort of a lot like Ulver – “Perdition City”. I don’t really like post-rock, but this track is really well put together and interesting. It’s quite developed and obviously totally different from the rest of the album, so props to MCKMN for being able to work outside of their usual style. This track being track three is a bit weird (it may have flowed better at the end of the album, since the last track is a similar quasi-post-rock piece), but whatever. After the title track, this album really kicks in (at least for me). The subsequent tracks are interesting pieces of melodic breaks with hints of cinematic ambient and IDM. They are upbeat with a subtle sadness about them. The melodies are unique and, perhaps simply because I never listen to breaks, these songs all sound quite original. MCKMN is good at making ‘progressive breaks’, that is, songs that slowly build and develop their atmosphere over their course; the pads grow and layer and melodies come and go, but always with a direction and purpose. The tracks are somewhat slow moving, but never dull, and they have enough variety to steadily keep my attention. “Seaport” is without a doubt my favorite, as it really lays on the cinematic feel. Another interesting one is “The Great White Open” which spices up the usual formula with smooth jazz flavour. As mentioned above, the closing track, “Lambkin”, brings back the post-rock vibes; this one has a lot of good folky ambience and big pads, complete with cheesy guitar that is both great and annoying… All in all, a fitting closer.
This is a debut album, so of course there are a few elements, such as mixing and production, that could be refined and developed in future works, but without a doubt “Orphan Ristophe” is a solid debut. If you like sad/cinematic/melodic music and/or trip hop, but you like upbeat, um, beats, then you should check this out. Personally, I am really looking forward to future output from MCKMN.
— Dan Barrett