Every person listens to two different kinds of music; surprisingly, it is not two different genres. One is the music that you listen to for the immediacy of it; this is the music is that gratifying almost instantly, and the ones that provides sing-alongs while in the car or head-bobbing affirmation while working out. The other kind of music that people listen to is the kind that speaks to you on a more intimate level. It reaches past the aggressive riffing and machine-gun drumming, tapping you quietly on the shoulder, simply just reminding you that there are darker things to think about. Mother has created quite the atmosphere in The First and the Last, as thought-provoking as it is dense.
This ambient/drone-based release manages a run-time of almost 23 minutes for one track, and continues to stay interesting, as distorted layers of guitar feedback crash into each other to somehow create a simultaneously pleasing and unnerving effect on the listener. This is a song that truly takes the listener on a legitimate journey, as the glacial pace is utilized specifically to create a mood. There are no abrupt walls of distortion to hit the audience with, nor are there peaks and valleys reminiscent of the post-rock realm; the progression of the track is completely natural and relies upon the deliberate pacing to tell a story. It would be easy to question what the story is, with no lyrics to convey any specific theme. The truth here is that regardless of the intent of the art by the artist, it is essentially for the witness of said art to decides what it means to him or her, and The First and the Last is no different in that respect. Mother is able to create music that is honest and passionate without the dilution that happens when a specific message is attached, allowing the atmosphere to ebb and flow with the specific listener. The project is as expansive as the music itself, as the photography attached to The First and the Last, as well as two poems scattered through the artwork of the EP help create more of an understanding of what this release means to the people involved in the endeavor. The wash of guitar reverb, combined with member Zach Starkey’s excellent use of horns lend more to this semi-improvised piece than the initial listen tells you.
This is meant to be listened in solitude at full volume, and as the music echoes through headphones, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this different than many ambient/drone releases of the past. The biggest differentiating factor is the scope and ambition of this release; this was meant to be all-encompassing as a listen. I can only speak for the things that it brings to my own mind as a listener, and that is the point of this release; the glow of my computer screen, the pitch-black of the dark around me, it invites me to a place that I don’t visit nearly often enough. Guitarist/percussionist Adam Grimes has quietly composed some of the strongest emotional drone material in recent history, and that in itself seems to be exemplary of the dichotomy that exists in The First and the Last. Many listeners will discount this as too laborious of a listen, and while it should be said that it is certainly not music that was made for parties, it is nearly impossible to imagine someone that would not get something out of an involved listen here. If you can get away from the everyday life that ensnares everyone these days for a bit, the reflection that comes from this release could be just what you need to gain perspective. Perspective on what? That is up to you, as this was made for each and every one of us. Perhaps Mother says it best on their artwork: “Listen at maximum volume and let it take you to the universe inside your head.” How intensely appropriate.
1. The First and the Last