Ooh, this is my new favorite album. miRthkon is an Oakland-based sextet, who describe themselves as coming from a “rich tradition of anti-tradition.” I find this an apt phrase, as they do seem to be the descendants of a long line of inventive, genre-mashing artists. The music on Vehicle (2009) blends prog rock, metal, funk, jazz, and classical (among other genres) into a distinctive, quirky sound. The mostly instrumental group features excellent guitar, bass, drum, sax, and woodwind work, along with other instruments. Vocals are also occasionally deployed, usually for comedic effect; the keyboard-doubled melodies on “Coven of Coyotes” were a major highlight for me. It’s a rich, heavily orchestrated ensemble, and the compositions are layered, complex and challenging.
Listening to Vehicle, one hears plenty of influences: a little Frank Zappa here, a little Mr. Bungle there, maybe even some Flat Earth Society, Mike Keneally, Meshuggah, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and John Zorn. It feels like a kitchen sink full of perverse, challenging artists, and yet the resulting sound is still singular and coherent.
Normally, it takes me multiple listens and a few weeks to review a new album, but this one was such an instant hit for me I couldn’t wait to write about it. A thrilling find, and it’s worked its way addictively into heavy rotation. Anyone out there who shares my weird taste in music should go out and grab them some miRthkon, stat!