Chicago artniks continue adapting their sound on new opus
Mahjongg’s music is undeniably difficult, but for every challenging passage there’s a populist sigh of relief around the corner. This is because a) the members of Mahjongg embrace sound in all its forms, and b) Mahjongg is precisely the type of experimental post-punk band that invites easy namedrops
(Can, M.I.A., Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, Afrobeat, Gang of Four, Prince, etc.) without ever really sounding like any of them for more than a moment. Luckily, Mahjongg’s new album Kontpab calls Calvin Johnson’s K Records home, which means the band should have the opportunity to rattle quite a few more eardrums than it has thus far. A few things said eardrums will experience are the brief, irresistible guitar stabs of the spacey “Problems,” the seemingly endless intro beat of “Pontiac” (inspired by a cassette tape found in the band’s old touring van), the sibilance-happy alt-romper “Those Birds are Bats” and the relentless, noisy jam of “Rise Rice.” An exhausting listen, Kontpab once again showcases Mahjongg’s innate ability to nab bits of greatness and incorporate them into its vast sonic palette.