Shrouded in mystery to all except those in the know is Miscellen, a new musical entity from the cold underground of the Washington, DC and Bristol, U.K. dark alternative scenes. On the Lurid Orange debut album, the enigmatic band presents an atmospheric and challenging blend of styles that revels in its tonal variety; elements of psychedelic instrumental post-rock clash with ambient synths and programmed rhythms in a sonic battle from which listeners can emerge victorious at having experienced such a sonic milieu.
For example, the opening “Nocturne” plunges us into a miasma of intricate drum patterns, thick bass grooves, and passionate howling voices true to the song’s title, the fluid keyboard lines of the song’s latter half not unusual in the grind of modern industrial/rock. On the other hand, “Life Above Concrete” moves at a more languid pace, slithering waves of ambient pads and chiming guitars evoking an audio noir vibe that recalls Angelo Badalamenti’s jazzy scores for David Lynch… that is, until the song takes on a more strident personality with a faster tempo, powerful vocals, and a more forceful rocking mood. The same can be said of “Starfish” with its interplay of soaring female and pensive male vocals set to layers of noisy guitars and a vociferous bass tone, while the gothic western vibe of the “Hemlock” interlude leads seamlessly into the noisily melodic grandeur of “Karada,” its off-kilter rhythms a particularly striking quality. Ending Lurid Orange is the slow and anthemic “Bone Dry,” the chorale of voices against the steely acoustic guitar contrasting with interwoven bass and guitar leads to make for a rather epic closer.
It’s difficult to narrow Miscellen’s sound down to specifics when they all coalesce so well into such a singularly diverse sound – one of the album’s major strengths, along with a rather excellent production and mix. Of course, given the players involved, this is to be expected… but who those players are is, at least for now, up to you to find out yourself.