mmph has just announced his debut EP. Released via Tri Angle Records on April 13 the sequence is called Dear God. The lead single, “Sun God” introduces the theistic theme – and stabs a manifesto of mmph’s sonic techniques to the mast.
Having been involved in some notable production work, not least for Serpentwithfeet, and most recently David Byrne’s American Utopia, mmph is a classically trained cellist, who leans heavily into the Electronic Production and Design chops that he picked up at the Berklee College of Music. The music here is processed with precision and achieves a scale that’s seldom heard on a debut release.
Initial abstract sounds sweep across the intro, and “Sun God” suggests we’re faced only by the ethereal – some kind of body with no form, to be measured in light or unearthly standard. However, mmph knows the strength of beats, and soon structure is placed over the ambient drones. The ear starts to extract sense – the description here is of something that’s simply too hard to fathom. We’re stood in front of something too big – we can either throw our will into the light, or get on our knees, and the product of our desires will be the same. This is what you get for tangling with the gods.
For all the space and amorphic tones that underpin the massive structures of the track, there’s a very human heart in the middle of the process. Tonal progressions drop into sadness, longing, hope – and the stuff of life is offered up.
The video, directed by Maria Constanza, is a study of motion – a depiction of will over nature, and it marries perfectly well to the sound. Like the tune, there’s a poetry to the stuff you’re looking into, and the movements that stuff is making. What is this thing we’re looking at? Can we unravel its nature by observing its actions? What happens when something delicate is met with a large, and dark force? Well, in this video, and in this music, beauty is shown as being preserved. The interaction between internal and external forces produces a different kind of peace.
mmph may have endured trials to bring his new collection to the light. Something here says that he toughed it out. The magic lies in the abject lack of cynicism. There’s no edge, no redundant or fashionable irony. The artist puts himself out there. “Sun God” isn’t beautiful just for the sake of beauty – but it is beautiful, and it’s strong. You can get through the bleak times. Hold on. This is pop culture at it’s best.
HURRY – LISTEN – MMPH
PHOTOGRAPH BY VALERIA ZAKLINSKAYA