Published May 26, 2020Edmonton five-piece Mallory Chipman & the Mystics whisk their listeners through Aquarian — an unapologetic, constantly shapeshifting, colourful cornucopia of synesthetic sounds.
Aquarian has been described as a "genre-obliterating" record that amalgamates Chipman's professional music career and personal influences. You can experience its infectious genre whiplash in several places, like the transition from the ambient spoken-word fantasy of "Wolf Children" to the rock star riffs of "Indigo and Amber." Chipman, who previously released two jazz albums, infuses the genre throughout the record. "Fruits," a basket of staccato richness, is peppered with her playfully quicky vocals, so precise it sounds like she's scatting. Even "Cool-Ade," a badass rock tune, features a pre-chorus in which she and the guitarist duet with undeniable swing.
Aquarian's mixing is stunning. "Wolf Children" soundscapes a world out of noises that percolate from left to right, and "Midnight Lady" contains deep synths that almost swallow the music entirely, creating a tasteful tension. The only instrumental on the album, "You Can't Edit an Asteroid," is scored by an incredible rhythm section, where the bass and drums travel and weave through a meteor belt of crashes, glitches and bells. Even the most delicate track, "Queen of Swords," is meticulously refined. You hold onto every moment knowing it's the final song, as the music vignettes at the edges and fades out.
Chipman clearly carves out a sound where she can be herself through this rich record, bursting at the seams with reimagined genre tropes. There is a difference between an artist experimenting for the sake of freedom and one who is so educated and confident in their diverse toolkit that they combine the elements together in the best possible way. Mallory Chipman & the Mystics are unarguably the latter. (Independent)