Brett Bixby and Jesse Nason met when Bixby was recording his 2006 album City Lights. After Nason joined his band to tour the album they decided to work together. The result of this labour is Mono Sources.
Musically Mono Sources combine hazy vocals, catchy rhythms, 1970s drum fills, and synth melodies that range from gossamer to broody. During the sessions the duo developed a rule that if a new piece of kit/gear came into the studio it had to be used that day. This spirit of improvisation should be applauded, however it doesn’t always benefit the compositions, as at times the songs feel cluttered and a bit busy.
When it works, and at times it really does, Mono Sources is that rare breed of album that has the ability to take you somewhere else and make you forget your woes, ‘Uneven Ground’ is a prime example of this. Tight breakbeats pop along with bright synths that slowly undulate in the background like phosphorescent in the deep sea appearing for brief moments only to vanish back into the obsidian murk. The vocals gently float above this creating a lurid and dreamlike vibe. ‘Hello, It Doesn’t Matter’ is another stand out moment. Derrick C. Brown delivers a monologue about things that don’t matter, while Mono Sources deliver a glorious synth heavy backing track that billows, swells and surges in all the right places. However feelings like this are as fleeting as the majority of the album.
When listening to Mono Sources, you get the idea of what they’re trying to do. Delicate synth/keyboard melodies play off, guitar solos and laidback vocals. The problem is that firstly we’ve heard it all before, and sadly better, and secondly the songs don’t actually go anywhere or do anything that interesting. Yes overall it generates a pleasant feeling and can help to take edge off the harsher moments of modern living. There is a good album in Mono Sources, but ultimately each song could be trimmed and two or three of the 13 tracks could be removed to deliver a tighter and more enjoyable album.
The self released Mono Sources is out now.