MASCARA – Spell
Recorded by Hendrik Gideonse at Indecent Music, Medford, MA
Mastered by Matthew Azevedo at M Works
At first blush, one might think Christopher Mascara has gone completely sideways. Spell is the sound of a musical free-fall, but somehow he always lands on his feet on each of the six tracks, no matter how weird things get. Mascara, in his open-collared shirt and Charlie’s Angels shades, throws himself into this record with reckless abandon through every aspect of his performance. Mascara’s expressive voice serves as a vehicle for this record, alternating talking, whispering, singing, and screaming. Spell also demonstrates his talent for composition and production. While some artists readily grasp any opportunity to spew out every idea they have ever had at once, each of the extra touches on Spell fits in seamlessly as a part of the song. Whether it’s the Aerosmithy horns/piano break in “No Afterlife” or the telephoned-in voice that pops up in the right speaker like a pop-eyed dormouse in standout track “Frostbite,” each flourish fits its surroundings.
The soft-show styling of “Frostbite” glosses over the accusatory tone of the lyrics, but by the time he’s worked the song up into a lather, Mascara turns his attentions to challenging issues of quantum physics on the churning “Time is a Lie.” After he puts time in its place, Mascara begins looking into metaphysics with the aforementioned “No Afterlife.” In a final stab at anachronism, the protagonist finally introduces himself in “Percy’s Revenge,” a musical feat of self-flagellation in which Mascara defiantly spits out each letter in his name (with the exception of a few Rs, probably removed for rhythmic license). Spell has a slightly out of control vibe, comparable to the feeling of taking a sharp turn while driving a little too fast down Route Mascara, but still arriving intact and fulfilled. (Mr. Fibuli’s Records)
--C.D. Di Guardia