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Marshmallow Coast
Vangelis Rides Again
Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

Vangelis (a.k.a. Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou) - Greek composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, pop rock, and orchestral music. He is best known for his Academy Award winning score for the film Chariots of Fire, composing scores for the films Antarctica, Blade Runner, Missing, etc.' (wikipedia.org). I still recall when I (as a young teen) watched the Cosmos TV series (A Personal Voyage PBS/BBC, 1980, 13 episodes) back in the wee early 80s. When hearing some of the music in the series, I didn't notice who was playing it. At the same time I mis-read/mis-heard the name as 'Wanglers' and I thought that was the band's name. Until a couple of weeks later, when I spotted a record in the local record shop: Vangelis...

Andy Gonzales and his Marshmallow Coast/M. Coast (MC) project is on again, back with his ninth album. Gonzales rides again... and so does Elephant 6! Throughout the last year, the Elephant Six alumni has been as active as ever (almost): Neutral Milk Hotel have been touring extensively for more than a year; Circulatory System put out a brilliant album last summer; of Montreal put out a smashing new album this spring; (Daniel Donahue's) psychedelic Dream Boat put out a splendid new album last fall; Mind Brains (featuring Andy Gonzales!) put out a new album in January; The Minders have recorded a new album which is to be released in the fall; both Cloud Recordings and Orange Twin Records are constantly putting out records; Orange Twin Conservation Community arranged a fundraiser concert/party on May 10th, feat. Circulatory System, Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel, Robert Schneider, Music Tapes, and Thimble Circus; and - finally - the documentary feature film A Place We Have Been To: The Elephant 6 Recording Co. is in the making.

So, back to the laid-back and carefree Marshmallow Coast. This time he/they (the players are: Andy Gonzales, Sara Kirkpatrick, Jim Hix, and Steven Trimmer - for live gigs other players drop in as well: Gregory Sanders, Emily Growden, and Derek Almstead -- though Gonzales prefers solo performances) present somewhat cheesy, 70s-inspired pop music (AM), plus synth and electronic seasoning ('I've gotten so into electronics in the past five years that it has eaten away at my song writing time and cycle of focus', Gonzales to Flagpole magazine). Vangelis Rides Again is a short mini-album (some 20 minutes of music - 8-9 tracks, including a couple of short vocals/instrumentals), and the opening "Hash Out Cash Out" makes me think of Swedish band bob hund (the sound of the music, not the vocals) when it starts. It is quite a nice track, but it is somewhat not going nowhere. Well, maybe it is just me. According to Midheaven.com it 'combines new age synth and Buckingham guitar to stunning affect'. "Hills Are Alive" (yes. it's the "Hills Are Alive", from The Sound of Music) is even more cheesy sounding. Well, it sounds nice, but I mean... covering this on? Hmmm. The title track and the following "Mystical Shit" and "Foreign Denial" continues on the synth path, tagged by Midheaven.com as MC's 'brittle prog-pop wasteland' (according to MC themselves/Gonzales himself, the 'short description' of MC's music is: 'jazzpsychclassical', or 'Music that changestays...').

Well, I am leaving the party, standing on the outside, listening... And... I'm not all too comfortable with this new stuff by MC. I am sorry, but this is the fact. Gonzales' inspiration and goals this time have been and sparse arrangements and simple song structures moving around just a few chords. All this coming 'classical composers he has long admired' (Flagpole). This sounds like a good thing. However, his songs did not hit me this time around. I still like Gonzales/MC though. He is (well, seem to be) an honest, true artist: 'I honestly try to never think about the music business, or buzz, or trends, or anything that can spur [that] nauseating roller coaster ride of emotions' (Gonzales, to Flagpole).

Copyright © 2015 Howard Popeye e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Marshmallow Coast article/review: Seniors and Juniors.

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