As 2019 comes to a close, Mutant Thoughts are ending the year on a high note. From their beginnings as an experimental electronic trio four years ago, they’ve implemented an increasing number of psych- and prog-rock elements into their recipe. Now a fully-fledged outfit with a tight live setup & a reality-bending sound, Mutant-Thoughts are ready to usher in the new decade and the next generation of rock. Tonight, they’re reverberating upstairs at The Mother’s Ruin, the most jam-packed dive-bar venue in the central Bristol circuit.
The red-lit upstairs of the Ruin waits still as the band run through their brief final soundchecks. Out of the feedback & buzz of equipment spawns a soft chorus of sinewave synths. Their harmony is quickly torn apart by stilted drumming & stabs of a distorted fanfare akin to a Hunter Hunt-Hendrix juxtaposition. It seems like downstairs have noticed, as more winter-coated Bristolians have assembled to gather around the trio in the low light. Lennox-Hilton’s bass tone is rich & warm, helping fill the cavernous space alongside Medlow’s generous drum fills. Cera’s anthemic vocals soar above the chaos below & guide us through the end of this twisted passage, directly into a cerebral prog-rock groove laden with lush crash cymbal & a meandering bassline connoting a cosmic river. It’s masterfully blended into a piece of spoken word from Cera, musing on his own conjured dream and the nature of déjà vu. By the time the band reach the natural landing-spot for the end of this groove, they have the room in a trance.
A steady roll of drum & bass builds on the crystalline, stratospheric synths with creeping intent, gradually becoming engulfed in its form before collapsing into the same underlying sinewave harmony that opened the show. Medlow suddenly rockets back into action, full of snare stabs and skittering hi-hats. The trio adopt a fantastic alternating 7/4 – 4/4 math-rock groove that’s sufficiently off-kilter to match up to the heady rhythms of the Everything Everything debut, but with more definitive 70s prog appeal. Cera’s vocals cut through the night in a spectacularly operatic fashion, again guiding the audience to sway & jostle, syncopated & entranced.
Mutant-Thoughts descend into the final quarter of their brief but potent set, delivering Surefooting to the audience. A live favourite from their most recent release, REALITY SUSPENDED, the track glides between hypnogogic verses punctuated by arpeggiated bass & a laidback ride cymbal groove, and a mischievous & hypnotic synth & bass combination that throws the track (and the lurching crowd) into controlled chaos. The track demonstrates some of the band’s best songwriting & structure to date, and Sylvia Massy’s influence (recording for Tool, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, System of a Down etc.) is clear in the meticulous & otherworldly tonality of the full ensemble. Below you can listen to a live performance of Surefooting from May’s performance at Crofter’s Rights.
The trio end the night with thanks to Effigy, the event organisers, and a rallying cry to the national strike in Colombia protesting President Duque’s authoritarian campaign. Before their time is up, the band leave us with Odd Boy, another fan favourite that propels the audience into the outer space of the mind. Cera lines the walls of the Ruin with glittering, cold synths whilst commanding a narrative working through discarding mental illusions in favour of resilience. In contrast, Lennox-Hilton’s ecstatic, bright bass syncopates playfully with Medlow’s skilful space-age rhythm. The entire gig was a cohesive, wonderfully arranged dream-state delivered to a small crowd in just under 25 minutes. If you’re a prog fan, a math nerd, or are just curious to hear where modern rock’s headed in the next few years, make sure to grab a ticket to see Mutant-Thoughts, and support these guys in taking the next step creating their eerie, majestic odyssey.