KC’s Music Monday: Maggot Brain

Maggot Brain is a welcome change to my current local hip-hop and indie infused iTunes library. As most would agree, music is a subjective and vital thing in our day-to-day lives and I, like many others, go through phases in the genres and bands that I gravitate towards.

That being said, regardless of my habitual and preferred genres, I am always on the hunt for musicians who clearly put a lot of time and dedication into their work and Maggot Brain is a perfect local example. I’ve seen their name on show bills over the course of the past year but haven’t had the opportunity to catch them live or listen to their music prior to their most recent recording.

Their debut album, “Stop and Breathe” is set for its vinyl release this Friday and also doubles as the debut release for the local label and Fuzz Record Shop extension, Fuzz Records. Talking to Ryan Slowey and Michael Hait (of Maggot Brain), Josh Cotrona (owner of Fuzz Record Shop) and August Rosa (co-owner of Fuzz Records) conversationally over the past couple weeks has reinforced how special this release will be for the band, label, record shop and area audience alike. Everyone has been directly involved with the vinyl pressing process from the very beginning and have had their fair share of challenges to overcome during the past few months. All parties involved are both vinyl and local music enthusiasts alike and that reflects clearly in the partnership.

Maggot Brain’s album is over a year in the making and was recorded and mixed by the bands’ own Ryan Slowey and Brett Portzer at North Sea Studios and Empty House in Albany, NY, and was also mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering in Chicago, IL., with album art by Mike Mullin.

Maggot Brain and Fuzz Records will be celebrating the album release with a show this Friday at Valentine’s, alongside San Francisco’s Kowloon Walled City, Boston’s hardcore experimentalists Zozobra, and Hush, . Tickets are available online and at Fuzz Record Shop.

The album’s 7 tracks are quite diverse from one another, without losing a quality of the band having a distinctive sound to call its own. The instrumentation is of top calibre and it also feels as though the musicians are improvising from track-to-track with a focus on providing an interesting and intelligent listening experience for the listener.

There are distinctive pauses, silences and tempo changes throughout that are very intentional without being distracting and that reinforces how this album is carefully crafted and meant to be listened to from beginning to end. The band’s sound is a blend of hardcore, grind, rock, psychedelic and something else, and all members work well together bringing their own personal experiences, talents and influences into the forefront without one element overshadowing the other. Musically, the album is well-composed without losing an element of spontaneity. They have their framework laid down, but they also stray from it throughout the album.

Listening to “Stop and Breathe”, it is as if Maggot Brain has a story to tell that is best told with its melodies first and occasional vocals and samples as it is fitting. Their music creates a controlled chaos that I quite enjoy and I would definitely recommend this album. It’s already available digitally on Bandcamp if you’d like to preview it prior to Friday’s vinyl release. I also have an inkling that Maggot Brain sounds totally different in the live setting (in the good way) and I am looking forward to checking them out at Valentine’s this Friday.

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