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Album Review

Though Nobody and Mystic Chords of Memory sounds like a quirky name for a band, it's actually a collaborative project between Elvin Estella (who records on his own under the name Nobody) and the duo of Chris Gunst and Jen Cohen, who record as Mystic Chords of Memory. Those familiar with their work as separate entities won't be too surprised by the way they sound as a trio: imagine vague but attractive melodies sung in a gauzy, slightly adenoidal 1960s male whine (multi-tracked for maximum retro-psychedelic effect) and underpinned by weird but highly effective loops and rhythm samples. It's those samples, with their strong but strange beats, that keep the proceedings from descending into insufferableness at several different points on the album: on "Broaden a New Sound" the halting, subtly dubwise rhythms hold your attention and help you realize how subtly pretty the song really is; on the quirkier and multi-layered "Decisions, Decisions," the juxtaposition of a wanky flute and a half-broken beat sets up a pleasing tension. Then there's "Klaw Prints," on which an acoustic guitar and a pronounced two-step beat (not to mention lyrical references to singing coyotes) allude directly to country without unambiguously embracing it. The album ends with more of a whimper than a bang, but up until then everything is just interesting enough to keep you consistently intrigued.


Formed: 2002 in Santa Cruz, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Beachwood Sparks amicably parted ways in 2002, at which point Christopher Gunst and his new girlfriend, former Aislers Set member Jen Cohen, moved to Santa Cruz. Gunst was enrolled in grad school, training to become a special education teacher, but he continued doodling around on his guitars and keyboards when he wasn't in the classroom. Cohen would pitch in, and their informal jams quickly turned into serious writing sessions. Rough Trade approached Gunst at this point, seemingly out of the blue,...
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Tree Colored See, Mystic Chords of Memory
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