MILDRED- ‘Mildred’

While a lot of new records arrive on cue, fresh and clean, at the end of an extensive promotional campaign to an expectant and prepared public, others seem to appear from nowhere. They’re born in darkness, formed without fanfare, and yet haul themselves out of the vast ocean of new music and still somehow, some way, end up in your ears and in your heart and in your brain all the same. ‘Pt.2’ by Mildred is one of those records. 

The plot thickens quickly too. There’s no booking agent, no record label, no credits at all here. And checking social media for mentions of the New York outfit, it seems as if most of the people who have heard ‘Pt.2’ already, were tipped off by an actual member of the band. I can’t even remember how I first heard it now. But, my god, is it worth hearing.

For the first two minutes it sounds like orchestra warming up, only they’re warming up during the apocalypse. It’s an ominous introduction thick with atmosphere and potential. Then a weary, caterwauling voice emerges from the noise, yowling about the sun and the moon and cackling hyenas. It sounds a lot like erstwhile Daughters frontman Alexis Marshall, and oh man do I hope it’s not him, but it could be. But hell, it could be anyone.

That mystique is definitely part of the appeal here. I can’t find any awkward photo shoots of Mildred, I can’t find any disappointing interviews. The album title here at the very least suggests there’s a ‘Pt.1’ but I can’t find any evidence of that either. There’s a chance my search engine is sputtering but it feels more like the grand total of how Mildred can be measured right now, is right here, spilling out of this record, rolling like noxious fumes across the floor, filling the room. And that feels increasingly rare and truly special.

That lack of standard and style extends to the music. Instead of any one genre or sound, Mildred take many forms over the 60 minutes of ‘Pt.2’. There’s rolling boulder rock, heartbreaking and beautiful shoegaze, experimental indie, some of the menacing jam session sound that Nirvana did so well, and dense (but not necessarily heavy) Isis-esque post-everything noise. And more. With every listen it always feel like there’s more.

‘Writer’s Exorcism’ combines bass-heavy punk rock riffing with almost-whispered vocals, ‘Writer’s Death’ is a 10-minute epic that turns both feedback and deep moans into brand new instruments, and ‘Mildred’ (the song) might be Mildred (the band) at their best, a slow-burning but memorable melting pot of looping hypnotic slowcore and urgent, emotional grunge.

That endless experimental variety doesn’t mean things feel disjointed though. Quite the opposite. No matter if Mildred are quiet or loud, slow or fast, there is a singular, unique atmosphere around these songs. It’s like the record was recorded in a vacuum. Or maybe in the middle of the eerie stillness that preceded some record-breaking, unparalleled tropical storm. Somewhere where the air was thick and the walls were wet. Or maybe, just maybe, it was made during an apocalypse.

In the end this hardly feels like an album at all- it feels like an experience. It’s a journey. It’s a swirling, whirling work of art. And all that from out of nowhere. 

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