Mass Gothic go big and ethereal on self-titled debut

Mass GothicIt didn’t matter where any of the sounds came from. I just cared that it sounded big and heavy.

This is Noel Heroux’s appraisal of his yearning, self-titled debut, Mass Gothic, which, deriving from creative frustration, plays very much like a sense of self being reborn.

Mass Gothic arrives almost 10 years after the now defunct Hooray For Earth began, an outfit where Heroux certainly took the creative helm. There are still embers visible from Hooray for Earth’s venture in this project: the ethereal vocals, the arresting guitar tones, but Mass Gothic reflects an image of an individual truly in a new place, of both thought and creative process.

New York has long been the backdrop for Heroux’s creative endeavours, and this latest project captures a very fitting image of the city. The instrumentation, most notably on “Nice Night”, has a towering presence. There is a heavy theme throughout the album, although it’s interesting to see Heroux using this in different ways. From the dissonant “Own the Road” to the more playful “Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me” the heavy element works well, with each track making a strong statement in announcing Heroux’s new found voice.  

In contrast to its large presence, there is also a deep feeling of introspection behind the project. Heroux states, “All I wanted to do was whatever I do when I’m alone and I’m unconcerned with what anyone else wants or expects…” This stripped back, freeing approach allows a layer of grittiness to show throughout the album, and with mastering by Greg Calbi, Mass Gothic delivers with mesmerising effect. Which is expected, considering Greg’s work with Tame Impala.

Collaborator and touring partner Jessica Zambri, adds to the record’s exuberance, bringing forth her creative vigour, well exercised by her work as one-half of New York based Zambri. This marriage of styles works well, with Zambri’s backing vocals in particular adding a new dimension to Heroux’s compositions.

Mass Gothic boasts of a partnership effortlessly in sync, and with it comes a certain air of relief. This is a monumental return to form for Heroux, and the album provides a perfect snapshot into the mind of someone going through a creative evolution.

Release: 5th February 2016, Sub Pop

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