Mandy, Indiana : …EP

Mandy Indiana EP review

Poised and immersive, Mandy, Indiana’s debut …EP is like something crafted from a film noir. This isn’t entirely surprising, given that the band cites the works of Gaspar Noé as a direct influence. Like his films, the band’s efforts are often thrilling, morbid, yet always possessed by a sense of danger, their central artifice one of vibrant industrial dreampop, cut through with a choking anxiety. 

There’s a clear cut aesthetic unity to this EP that never wavers. Relying heavily on Valentine Caulfield’s french vocals to build a layer of mystique, while percussive suites provide a droning, mechanical violence to it all. Those who appreciate Autechre’s obsession with recreating a naturalist approach to IDM will find Mandy, Indiana’s efforts here to be spot on in their approach to the avant garde. 

It’s the kind of EP that will shift from a marching tempo snare sitting in stark isolation, perhaps recorded in an empty alley, to a perfectly tuned and pristine house beat, overdubbed with scratching effects, slipping between each audio channel like a serpent. Synths flutter like sirens, carefully placed pools of static submerge the audio, only to wrestle with a pause of silence that isn’t really silent at all. In those transitions, more field recording style bits are apparent yet subtle, bulbs turning on or off, perhaps a heater’s hum. It’s the kind of sound that is going to stick with listeners because of how it’s positioned between an inner world of the organic and an outer world of the inorganic. 

The EP occasionally recalls composer Angelo Badalamenti’s more experimental works. On “Nike of Samothrace,” lofty waves of undulating sonic fury tactfully fall apart to allow a crude harmony to emerge. In this breakdown is where the band comes alive, finding a current that most would struggle to grasp, assembling different deep grooves and percussive additions to create prog inspired sonic puzzles.

The closer of the EP, the weirdly named “Alien 3,” uses a rapid-fire drum machine cadence as its base, evoking early industrial menace, while a procession of blistering samples stab the audio into the listener. Caulfield’s vocals again do immense lifting with constant repetition of the chorus, repeating into a drone like state before delving into sonic overload. Two remixes of the prior tracks are included. They’re perfectly suitable remixes, leaning heavily into the dirtiest aspects of each and giving the drum machine in the background a prominent fixture in the mix

There’s a certain enthusiasm about distinctly not caring at all, about going for the throat and pretending that it was done with divine guidance instead of meticulous production. That’s exactly where Mandy, Indiana’s …EP is coming from. Equal parts exciting and foreboding, it’s something that prolific listeners have already heard to an extent. But, there’s a character here, a specific aesthetic with Caulfield’s French vocals and art-house avant garde bleeding into it that feels positively transgressive. 

Label: Fire Talk

Year: 2021

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