Mind Spiders continues to be a very accurate name as the sound evolves.
The one-time “solo” Mark Ryan project was to be his creative space for worlds outside of the garage-punk perfection of bands like The Marked Men. It began sounding a little like The Marked Men + keyboards and, oh, how it’s grown.
Today Mind Spiders are a band, albeit still defined by the primary songwriter Ryan, surrounded by a rotating supporting cast. The line-up on Prosthesis is Ryan, and also Daniel Fried (Bad Sports, Radioactivity, High Tension Wires, etc), Mike Throneberry (The Marked Men) and Peter Salisbury (Baptist Generals/Sub Pop Records). The touring version is a sexy three-piece.
On this 8-song effort, the tone has finally steered entirely clear of the “garage” preface that’s haunted reviews of their earlier work. This is space-rock driven by the keyboard and Ryan’s tonal, semi-expressive vocals. It’s alien music, but it’s alternately rocking, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. (It means that Mind Spiders is whatever the hell Ryan wants.)
While the songs here are each fully formed and carry their own punch, Prosthesis is really connected through a cohesive half-hour full-play united by keyboard tones at the foundation of each song. The rhythms really repeat and bounce, while the beat and vocals bring the listener more directly into the action in emotional ebbs and flows. A hypnotic rhythm keeps pulsing as the spaceship races away from one dramatic scene to the next.
While it’s easy to get lost in the keyboard’s rhythm, there is a well placed drama that controls each song on this album with a forward-moving trajectory. “Rip It Out” has the now familiar Mind Spiders ominous vocal delivery countered by a chugging beat that interplays with the hyperactive keys. In between verses, it takes a dramatic turn that pushes ahead against the grain of Ryan’s hypnotic vocal tone. The same contrast of action and repetition is at play through most of the record, such as “Nothing without It.” After starting with a synthetic keyboard opening, the song gets more revved up when it hands off to the guitar, alternating between those dominant sounds throughout the three minute song. That’s really the interplay of the entire record, balancing pop and space rock with a somewhat dark tone.
Mind Spiders were always supposed to be something new, but it was hard to separate the band from Ryan’s past. On Prosthesis, the cord has finally withered away. While this album is definitely outside of my main listening style, it’s nearly flawless space rock that’s interesting without being irritating, incorporating subtle pop touches to keep the positive energy flowing through the more alien sounds. I’m looking forward to where Mind Spiders will go next.
With four albums in the last five years, I assume their next step is already half-finished.
8.0 / 10
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