Brooklyn duo The Mast has released their new track “Raining Down” as a preview of their upcoming album Pleasure Island. The second track on the album, “Raining Down” combines Haleh Gafori’s sultry distorted vocals with Matt Kilmer’s euphoric, Eastern-inspired production, with subtle nods to their varied influences such as Massive Attack, Bonobo and Mount Kimbie. Like much of The Mast’s catalog, the track seamlessly stitches a vast array of musical strains, from tribal music to old-school trance to hip-hop, into their own singular sound.
Recently, the band debuted their video for “So Right” which quickly garnered praise from USA Today, The Huffington Post, Death + Taxes, Impose and more. The clip premiered via Interview Magazine, who called it “irresistibly adorable,” with the video produced entirely by the band — singer Gafori directing and editing and beatsmith/percussionist Kilmer filming. The concept of the video came from watching Gafori’s 22-month-old nephew pretend to DJ.
Eschewing the traditional instrumentation used on their debut Wild Poppies, Gafori and Kilmer created the blueprints for Pleasure Island on planes and between gigs and recordings sessions in their hometown of Brooklyn. Over the past year, while composing music and recording for Louis CK‘s show Louie on FX and working with artists as diverse as Reggie Watts and new music cello pioneer Maya Beiser, Kilmer always had his laptop in tow and was consistently sending tracks to Gafori. Between directing or editing music videos and darting off to cities as far as Assisi, Italy to recite her poetry, Gafori would write lyrics, record melodies, tweak arrangements and send the tracks back to Kilmer. Through this volleying of ideas, Pleasure Island was born.
This back and forth process resulted in an inviting, lush collection of songs that soaks the mind in a bath of endorphins while propelling the body to dance. Opening track “Luxor” highlights Kilmer’s infatuation with early UK drum ‘n bass released on the Metalheadz imprint, detectable in the skittering beats under Gafori’s winding vocal lines and velvety chants. On “So Right” a minimalist verse featuring a bell-like synth slowly builds, eventually bursting into a chorus that could easily be at home in a Deadmau5 or Hardwell set. “Cliff” follows with a wide-open booming 808 beat that drops into a crushing double-time chorus as Gafori’s vocals soar.
The dance floor banger “Breathless We Go” follows, leading us into the mysterious cave of “Voices” which, like many of the songs on the album, features found sounds – in this case windsurfing swooshes as well as percussion samples Kilmer collected during his years of traveling. Continuing in this vein, the impressive beast of a song “Nuclear Dragon” features an African balafon deftly played by Kilmer and “Lean Into It” opens with a sample of Pygmy water drumming from the Congo.
In their live shows, where they have performed alongside Blonde Redhead, Reggie Watts, Teebs, Susanne Sundfør and more, Kilmer and Gafori incorporate live electronics, percussion and vocal improvisation, preserving the spontaneity they cultivated as instrumentalists. Speaking on their live show, Gafori said “We know we’ve succeeded when our audience is sweating by the end of the show. When we see them jumping and moving, we know they’ve had a good time.”
Pleasure Island is out January 28th, 2014 on Channel A Records.