The art of the side project is a musical avenue that can have infinite possibilities. It usually breeds from what an established musician has been doing throughout their career while discovering a need to explore different routes. Not wanting to risk alienating the fan base they already have, they start a new band with other musicians creating diverse sounds that broaden their horizons. That’s what Peter Prescott, drummer for Boston post-punk legends Mission Of Burma, did with Minibeast, an experimental noise rock project that has a plethora of energy and vigor. Prescott’s project has a new album titled Free Will, and it’s being premiered today on Vanyaland.
“In a way, this really began to gestate when I started to work at a record store called Mystery Train in Boston in the early ’90s,” Prescott tells Vanyaland. “There was a great, open-minded group of musicians and music lovers who worked there under the wise tutelage of the owner, Jack Evans. We all loved rock, indie rock, punk rock dearly, but for me, a lot of new sounds came stampeding into my radar. Mostly because if a record came in that looked interesting or amusing, you could just play it.”
He adds: “This coincided with tons of reissues on CD and very importantly, the publication of the Incredibly Strange Music books, Volume 1 and 2, put out by the company Research. The books were great, because they went backward and offered an alternative history of what was good music. Surf, crazed rockabilly, academic electronic records, exotica, and soundtracks really reinvigorated my ears and brain. The music I had always made was provocative as opposed to evocative. Demanding attention as opposed to providing a musical environment that you could use as your mind wants to.”
On the album, eerie, dark, and distorted are the best words to describe third track “High Sea”; the production sounds like the track was recorded in a dirty basement with groovy bass lines and raw guitar riffs flowing from start to finish. The bass gets heavy in “Guest At The Door” and the vocals get more and more haunting as the song goes along. There are also numerous samples being played while the drums are kept in the background and serving as the anchor for the entire track. “Oily Morning Paper” has a jazzy vibe to it as if it was something you’d hear if Miles Davis decided to join the No Wave scene in New York City during the early 1980s. Voice samples keep it weird and the guitar is all over the place with multiple chords and progressions.
Minibeast will be performing at Somerville’s Once Ballroom this Saturday night (May 28) with hypnotic rockers Magic Shoppe, electronic minimalists Dyr Faser and Portland (Maine) psychedelic freaks S.S. Cretins. There will also be projection art being shown all night courtesy of Video Joe and Vidumami. It’ll be the perfect evening for anyone who digs the avant garde. While you’re at the show, pick up a copy of Free Will. Until then, lend your ears to the stream via Soundcloud below and enjoy.