Beautiful. Weird. Elegant. Curious.
At age 27, after 2 full length albums, a live EP, a soundtrack for east coast documentarian, Kent Bye, over five steady years of live shows, and with a full arsenal of incredibly competent musicians at her side, Chicago native Gwen Mitchell is primed to launch yet another collection of originals directly into mainstream awareness. Begin: Eclectic Consciousness Music.
Each song is treated like a vingette; sketches of Latin swing and jazz, are penciled by a deft sense of percussion and pocket in “Athena,” care of Grant Niebergall, percussion.
The palatable pop structure of “Presently” and “Motor”, are made substantial by bouncing, floating, and melodic bass lines [Vasquez], and graceful, soaring strings headed by newest addendum Albright. Between the rolling, bubbling rhythm section and the swift breezes of melodies, Gwen draws you a vivid landscape that is impossible to imagine otherwise.
Dubbed “eclectic” not for lack of stylistic focus or musical identity, but rather, Gwen moves her band through genres and even time periods in fully realized leaps. Musicians and audiences alike have called her a cogent innovator in experimental music. Each song is expertly crafted utilizing the more “behind-the-scenes” tools of music--rich color combinations, lush arrangements, and memorable melodies. “Start with what is familiar and breath freshness into it. Use what is already in everyone’s consciousness for momentum into a new idea.”
The grimier rock tracks like “Persephone” and "Ailes de Papier" dig a deep well and draw up this sludgey collective consciousness that feels cathartic and vulnerable at the same time. Even though she handles deeper, more mystical concepts, Gwen never seems to be overreaching herself or the band’s abilities.
And though her more instrumental albums and performances prove Gwen is a competent guitarist, where she shines on this album is in her voice which should be noted as much more than a vocal approach. Her voice is heard in her ability to make allowances, as an editor and an arranger—showcasing a passage, a phrase, or an instrument—to stretch, pull, and squeeze as much life into 4 minutes as possible.
Art rock by production, grime by feel, folk by roots, pop by melody, poetry by lyricism, or jazz by soul: however you classify this band, the singular vision driving this musical pastiche is the fresh approach taken to everything you’ve heard before.
Beautiful. Weird. Elegant. Curious. -esque