On their 2022 album Mt. Surreal, the Swiss indie rock band Disco Doom tear apart, mess around with, and reassemble the classic indie rock sound they had previously played, coming up with a sound that's thrilling and uplifting, difficult and off-putting all at the same time. Working over a long stretch of time, the duo of Gabriele De Mario and Anita Rufer started the album at home, tried it again with a full band, and then scaled back to mostly just the duo. The result is something that is claustrophobic and immersive; songs like "Patrik" and the title track grab one in a tight embrace of jagged guitars, fractured song construction, strangled voices, and herky-jerk rhythms and don't let up at all. Other songs creep and crawl, dragging overdriven guitars and odd noise through the mix, leaving a trail of uneasy feelings. "Static Bend'' comes across like Sonic Youth on a bender, mixing enough helium and heavy libations to bend the guitars and send the vocals skittering across the mix like balloons let go in the wind. It's the kind of record that takes a few spins to begin to understand; there's a lot going on in the arrangements, and the sounds are disorienting. It's definitely worth the effort, though, because even within the overall weirdness and beauty of the album, there are individual components that are worth digging into. The variety of guitar tones alone are worth investigating, as even if one isn't a pedal buff, the sheer number of sounds -- ranging from gawky no wave chatter to rich analog overdrive and echoing dub scrape -- is staggering. If that sounds too musicianly, the emotions they manage to wrestle out of the strange songs is something to be admired, too. Something like "Rogue Wave" doesn't only sound great, the chiming melody and the honest howl of the vocal give it some depth, as well. Mt. Surreal is Disco Doom reinvented, rebuilt, and reimagined, and it is wonderful and weird and breathes new life into the overplayed, often unimaginative '90s indie rock sound.
Mt. Surreal Review
by Tim Sendra