Thursday, 6 March 2014

MOPE - S/T - Album Review

Mope cover art

Album Type:Album
Date Released: Feb 22nd 2014
Label: Taxi Driver Records

Mope – S/T - track listing:

1.Old Grey Street 07:31
2.Doomed To Feed The Ground 12:57
3.La Caduta 09:57


MOPE is an instrumental doom metal band formed in Genova (Italy) in 2011 by Fabio Cuomo (Drums // Eremite), Stefano Parodi (Bass // Vanessa Van Basten), Jessica Rassi (Guitar // The Giant's Lab) and Sara Twinn (Saxophone // Folagra). They love minimalist and repetitive but heavy and distorted drones and stoner doom metal riffs, together with slow ambient/jazz environments. Each member comes from a different music background but they all agree on listening to Earth, Om and Sleep. What comes out is a mix of heavy sonorities and elements of avant-garde metal, with the saxophone as a peculiar vocal line. For fans of Yakuza, Minsk, Callisto but also any doom metal, post metal, stoner and psychedelic music lover.

Mope's self-titled debut album will be out on 22nd February 2014, released by Taxi Driver Records (Genova, Italy) in CD and digital format. "Mope" was recorded at Cdm, then mixed and mastered at El Fish Recording Studio. The CD cover artwork is a drawing by Jessica Rassi (The Giant's Lab).

Band Members

Drums: Fabio Cuomo (Eremite)
Bass: Stefano Parodi (Vanessa Van Basten)
Guitar: Jessica Rassi
Saxophone: Sara Twinn (Folagra)


Less than a minute into opening track Old Grey Street I knew I was listening to something very different. Out of a modest, lone drum beat comes not a crushingly heavy riff (that comes a few moments later) but the unexpected, sultry tones of a saxophone. This is not standard doom metal as we have come to know it.

Instrumental band Mope, from Genoa, Italy, have hit the ground running with their debut full-length record, which is as simplistic as it is alluring and, clocking in at the half hour mark, is as teasing as it is captivating. The contrast between the records slow-jazz moments as well as the clear, defined saxophone where the vocal lines should be, and the rough, sometimes lo-fi sounding guitar riffs and doom metal gloom is striking yet not overpowering. Really it works far better than it probably should.

The band have taken somewhat of a simple, minimalist approach to their music but that doesn't mean there aren't subtle yet commanding intricacies. Upon first listen I was instantly taken with the record but maybe felt as though I was left ever so slightly underwhelmed. On repeated listens I have realised this is not the case. You will find no frantic tempo here, no sudden or sharp changes in its pace, but rather a weary, sorrowful yet graceful journey so unrelenting in its misery that you may just find your mind wandering or shutting down towards it's conclusion. However, listen to the record again and you may just be rewarded with very small yet very significant qualities within it that slipped your attention. It's oh so easy to find a dark-jazz record so repetitive and simplistic in its nature that it leaves you feeling it lacks any kind of spark whatsoever. Mope have a spark. Briefly and sporadically flickering back into life throughout a peaceful slow-burn.

With the albums three tracks woven together with an interlude of slow, ambient drone and a piano mirroring the elegance of the saxophone, Mope are not making music that will feature on the playlist for your next party. You aren't going to play this record through earphones when you go for a run or first thing in the morning with coffee to energise you for the long day ahead. Mope are not making music to bang your head to. Instead this is a thirty minute trip through darkened, dingy clubs bathed in thick cigar smoke or a lonely late night stroll through a city illuminated with bright lights yet seemingly devoid of life. This is a band making the kind of music that fits their name exactly.

Written by Neil Ainger

Thanks to Sara at Taxi Driver Records for sending us a promo of this excellent album. Mope S/T album is available to buy on DD and CD now from Taxi Driver Records BandCamp Page.