Chicago indie-rock eccentric Mormon Toasterhead breaks nearly two years of silence | Bleader

Monday, September 25, 2017

Chicago indie-rock eccentric Mormon Toasterhead breaks nearly two years of silence

Posted By on 09.25.17 at 12:00 PM

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click to enlarge Ben Klawans - COURTESY OF BEN KLAWANS
  • Courtesy of Ben Klawans
  • Ben Klawans

Chicago singer-songwriter Ben Klawans, aka Mormon Toasterhead, first got my attention four years ago with 97% Old, which boiled down 90s emo to its melodic skeleton and reassembled it in disfigured but disarming new shapes. Klawans experiments restlessly with genre, but as strange as his music can get, it almost always preserves its pop hooks and emotional center. Last week he dropped his first full-length in nearly two years, Monocarpic—it's the only thing he's posted to Bandcamp since 2015's Slack Tide, excepting the May release of "Bright Green," the first single from the new album.

I've repeatedly returned to "Bright Green," but my favorite track on Monocarpic is the epic "Honey Rain." It combines anxious, spidery riffs, symphonic synths, delicately looping guitar melodies, brief bursts of fevered blastbeats, and what sounds like an electronic imitation of a suite of tuned bells. Klawans's vocal performances shift from almost inaudible whispers to blown-out screams, and occasionally cover a range of yells and shouts all at once via overdubs. He even lets out a cartoony ghost moan after his lyrics mention finding a witch in the kitchen—it's silly, but it can hardly feel out of place in a song that ropes together so many different sounds.

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