one of Boston's musical treasures - The Noise

THE NOISE Magazine
Boston, MA
June 1998

AUDIODODAHDAY by Butch and Brenda

MASCARA 4 songs

Chris Mascara's voice has gotten progressively stronger in the ten years we've followed him, from The Void to The Fodder Mints, Bushmaster and Rootlock. His compositional skills have improved immensely. He still likes to wallow in ugliness and makes you want to rap him on the knuckles and say "Life is real, life is earnest" — especially when he starts in on that "this is the year of the motherfucker" refrain and follows it up with a jalopy-breaking-down middle eight and fades to avant prog rock, as on the song "Chromosome," with its otherwise astonishing and chilling opening section. Parts of this tape-large patches of certain songs in particular-hit high notes which, if not sustained, are nevertheless inimitable. One of Boston's musical treasures, Chris seems intent, like Bob Dylan on "It's Alright Ma," on fitting everything into one song before the world blows itself into smithereens. Nowhere is this more evident than on "What Now," his most sophisticated composition to date and a worthy companion to "Carnival," though falling short of what bids to be the song o' the decade, "No Afterlife." Into one song he pours enough material for three or four. Although you can still hear traces of other esoterica-friendly composers Iike Beetheart, Kottke, and Peter Laughner, Mascara seems to be coming into his own as a writer of original compositions in a league with some local demi-god like Frank Black. The sedate melodicism of "Thread" and the mordent balladry of "Jesus/Satan" seem to serve to balance the strenuous rigor of "Chromosome" and the regnant call and response nursery rhyme-cum-juddering, shiver-inducing otherworldly pomp of "What Now," his most thoughtfully ambitious composition to date, of such a high order of achievement that we have no alternative but to jointly designate this as our Tape of the Month for June. *****