Album: mippopotamus – Clearer

This is a beautiful record. It’s also a delicate one- filled with meticulous details and evocative, shimmering, warbling sounds. The vocals are confiding and strange – their distorted fairytale-evoking narratives somehow detached and intimate simultaneously. The use of percussion is mostly beyond understated – sometimes nothing more than an occasional brushed drum- but this doesn’t need anything more visceral. The ukulele playing too is simple and direct and allows for those hushed, sometimes harmonised close-mic vocals to weave intricate but direct melodies in the negative space. The manipulation of subtle sounds adds wonderful additional depth. Backwards notes whine and shiver and odd, vaguely discordant parps intrude strangely. It’s magnificent. 

With its soft and hushed atmospheres and childlike melodies – I suppose this would find its place at the table of the twee-pop family; but I don’t care for genre too much anyway- I care about connection. I connected to this instantly. It’s nostalgic but also oddly futuristic. It feels familiar but dream-like. There are some rhythmic echoes of an early, still folk-entwined Sufjan Stevens. ユリは咲かない  for example seems sonically in thrall to Seven Swansesque atmospheres.  But that beautiful mesmeric voice makes these hypnotic banjo exercises something else again – still original, still pure and still true.  

Then ダンス comes along and changes everything for its brief moment of life; it’s all glitchy, dance textures, silken, sampled cello and staccato synthetic strings. Everything repeats hypnotically in bolder gestures – it feels visual, vivid and odd. I love it.  ‘tiny house’ returns us to that lovely nostalgic crackle that lured me in initially- where keys warble with cassette tape undulations. I’m reminded of the latest experiments of Orchid Mantis at times – and anything that taps into concepts of sound as memory has automatically found an ally in these ears. Strings pluck specific short lines; everything is slow, somniferous and utterly transfixing. I love the odd clicks, pops and the wheezing hum of the accordion that surrounds this song. It gives it breath and life and longing. 

Sometimes things enter more steadfastly lo-fi territory, like on ‘human being’; mostly though each song feels like a place where the small moments matter and the production, though homespun, is nevertheless meticulous. Above all though, this is music presented to the listener as an object of refined, euphonious beauty – a rare and precious thing in its private world, enriched with an individualistic poetry of its very own.  

In short, I love this album; mippopotamus is a marvel.

Clearer is clearly a place you might want to stay a while… it’s a place I don’t want to leave. 

Written by M.A Welsh (Misophone) 

Music | Misophone (