Brooklyn-based band The Mast have been busy since their formation back in 2011. The release of their debut album Wild Poppies introduced the world to percussionist Matt Kilmer and vocalist Haleh Gafori. They followed that up with a 2012 single for “UpUpUp,” released along with five remixes of the song. “UpUpUp” marked a clear movement away from melodic instrumentation and subdued vocals towards heavier percussion and electronic effects. As Gafori sings “Next time your spinning thoughts are casting a heavy spell, please find it hiding in the deep of your moonlit well, yeah, your elevator up, up, up, up, up, up to the highest part of us,” she elevates both listeners and the band itself to new heights. In a more literal sense, Gafori hits some notes up there that I’m pretty sure only dogs and small children can hear properly. Bouncy beats and infectious sopranos bring it all back down to earth.
When Pleasure Island was released on January 28th, I was very pleased to discover that Gafori and Kilmer maintained these heights throughout the entire album. The thirteen tracks that make up Pleasure Island emanate the ethereal coolness that typify The Mast’s general sound. Esoteric vocals, persisting beats, and, of course, (have I mentioned it enough?) Gafori’s soothing soprano are audible from beginning to end on Pleasure Island.
Last Friday, The Mast appeared on a sold-out bill at Glasslands, sandwiched between Milan and MNDR. Both of those acts occupy the poppier side of the electronic music genre, making The Mast the most contemplative act of the night. The aloofness that comes across on the album extended to the live performance, as Gafori and Kilmer remained relatively silent throughout the set. Gafori did all of the talking, which was limited to introducing songs, thanking the audience and promoting the new album; both seemed to be more focused on their carefully honed sounds rather than interaction with the audience. The Mast presented their music with noteworthy tightness and accuracy, played more or less as it sounds on Pleasure Island – a smart move for an up and coming band seeking to increase listenership. As Gafori finished a verse, she would step back from the mic and vibe while Kilmer drummed the backbeats, stoic and seemingly in deep concentration. The music, combined with the abstract images projected in the background, produced the otherworldly dance party atmosphere that I had hoped for.
If you haven’t been lucky enough to see The Mast perform one of their live shows, get your shit together. They have/will be playing ton of them in NYC so there is basically no excuse to miss them.