Heavily influenced by bands like Tortoise, Sonic Youth (at their most sedate) and free jazz, mOck are one of those bands that will be adored by a select few and ignored by the rest. ‘Components’, the band’s fourth EP sees the band exploring gently unhinged art rock, shoegaze and jazz with unerring intensity and makes you wonder what lysergic delights are in the water in Berlin that encourage such meandering and yet brilliant compositions.
‘Poitou’ is an awkward beast that flows despite the unhinged time signatures thrown at it by the band. Freddy Knop’s bass work here is exemplary, holding the jazzy grooves together, whilst Conrad Rodenberg must dream in equations to come up with the rhythms that underpin the song. Like Sonic Youth playing Miles Davis covers, this is unusual, arty, underground music, and the result is fascinating, unique and enthralling. Listening to it recalls long lost days sitting listening to the obscure releases from the US underground with rapt attention, and the fact that this little beauty is pressed on glorious 10” vinyl only adds to the thrill of hearing music with such a wonderfully independent spirit in this depressingly digital era. Next up is the subtle, intricate ‘Leiden, Nl’, with its rich harmonics and beautifully muted guitar work (Felix Zimmermann). The vocals are delivered in a kind of sigh, soft and mellifluous, and it is with something of a jump that the end of the side snaps you out of your reverie.
The second side of the EP sees the band exploring compulsive, repetitive rhythms on ‘Singh’, the guitar building a web as the drums slowly hypnotize and, eventually, engulf the listener. An instrumental track, lyrics here would be entirely beside the point, ‘Singh’ is a strangely beautiful exercise in counter-rhythm and complex, without being showy, guitar work. The final track, ‘Max Karl’, sees the vocals return and the effect is like that of a jazzier Sebadoh at their most dreamy. Intelligent, intricate and never less than fascinating, it closes this all too brief EP and leaves the listener urgently wanting to hear more.
In ‘Components’, mOck have crafted an EP that is sweet, subtle and yet ambitious. For those adventurous souls who seek out this quietly unassuming band, wonders await. For myself, listening to the EP is like hearing Sonic Youth’s ‘the diamond sea’ for the first time. The music itself is comparable only in that it evokes similar feelings of musicians pushing boundaries because they’re there and there is no question that mOck have no further motivation to make music than because it is their overriding passion. It’s a gorgeous EP, tailor-made for vinyl and perfectly mastered by Freddy Knop himself, with its rich, warm tones and beautifully analogue feel. It takes a few listens to really appreciate the EP’s charms, but persevere and you’ll find in ‘components’ a deeply rewarding experience.