November 18th, 2015 | Album reviews

Media Jeweler
$99 R/T Hawaii
Fire Talk

($99 R/T Hawaii is available on vinyl from Fire Talk on Nov. 20)

Orange County band Media Jeweler presents $99 R/T Hawaii, a work consisting of seven mostly instrumental tracks performed on electric bass, drums, guitar and trumpet. The track lengths span between one and seven minutes, with a total listening time of 22 minutes, and the band crams a tremendous number of musical ideas into that small space with tracks put together as if they were jigsaw puzzles. Instrumental motifs are overlaid to form patterns, the length and intensity of which varies with the addition and subtraction of motifs, and these patterns are laid end to end to create the individual tracks. This results in variations in musical tension: tension is increased by overlaying dissonant layers or adjoining dissonant patterns, or it is decreased by removing layers or adding consonance. The few lyrics presented on the album are exclusively shouts and chants, with no narrative voice. In sum, the album is essentially clinically precise mood music for those with short attention spans. A lyric on track 3, “Passport Invalid,” aptly summarizes the album: “More black coffee. Anxiety.” It succeeds in being musically challenging, masterful and cathartic, while struggling to be cohesive or make a lasting connection.

—Josh Solberg