Review: Ex-Easter Island Head – Mallet Guitars Three

Ex-Easter Island Head are sonic detoxifiers, whose mallet taps initiate the liberation of debris trapped within the instrument fibre – lush tones pour out of each impact with the peaceful exhalation of a body cleansed, while the shivers of scraped strings kneed out a tension between wood and metallic tendon. The four parts comprise a thorough sonic massage, rendered deep and whole by its traversal across the spectrum of treatment: abrupt beater knocks, deeply resonant rubs, repetitious patters that render the point of impact delightfully numb.

Where the first movement casts ideas out into the air – a dawn chorus of sorts, rousing the vocalisations of vibraphone and each of the guitar’s many limbs and surfaces – the second commences a harnessing of focus, plucking out a mutual destination in the cross-weave of direction. Elements of techno can be identified (mesmeric loops that send the mind in on itself) as well as the ancient rituals that work to translate musical motion into a spiritual one; the third movement arranges the more oaky and percussive rhythms into a campfire crescent, engaged and facing inward, as the flames at the centre pop and flicker as little decays of string vibration, casting magic greens and purples out of the familiar orange and red.

There are other instruments here too, whose entry is granted for their parallels in intent. Violins waft out of the vents at the start of the final piece, filling the corners of the space and casting a very distinctive acoustic chamber within the mind’s eye – a village hall perhaps, with felt curtains just gently dampening the self-generative resonance high ceilings and lacquered floor – and their syrupy arcs in pitch sound like gravity sliding off its axis, turning the wall to my right into my new floor in a gradual, ballet dancer swoop. In fact, it’s only in the closing stages (right about when the mysterious hums of baritone vocal start anchoring the cloud to a rickety bass frequency platform) that I start to question whether these are violins at all, as the little glimmers of taut nickel and pickup capture start to puncture the veil like supernatural eyes.