Mad Libre is the epitome of noir-rock
Sometimes I am called on to write about an act whose style is not necessarily my cup of tea. That’s perfectly fine. Whether a band is “good” or not has nothing to do with my personal taste. Once in a while, though, I get lucky and hear a band that fires on the cylinders I happen to enjoy.
You might think that would compromise my objectivity, that I would be prone to gushing over a band that plays the sort of stuff I like to listen to…
Au contraire ma pomme de terre. Quite the opposite. If the band is playing “my” kind of music, then I’m going to hold the band to a higher standard than anyone else. How fortunate for me, then, to be reviewing Mad Libre, a band that plays the music I love and does a damn fine job of it.
Mad Libre is the newest project from local wunderkind Ian Waters. Ian ought to be a familiar name given his work with Medicine Tree, Okinawa and Gorgeous, as well as his production for Elk Milk and Gold Plated Gold.
A multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer, Ian has an almost magic touch when it comes to making music. His latest project is no exception, though admittedly he had a little help from his friends Josh Pickens and Chris Allen, both phenomenal musicians in their own right.
Mad Libre is the sort of band that pops up in the Pandora of people who dig Nick Cave and Tom Waits. Mad Libre is Pink Floyd with Leonard Cohen leading the band. It’s dark music, kids. “Dark and conceptual” is how Ian describes it himself, a fact I was not aware of when I made that judgment.
I once described local favorites The Dead Testaments as “noir-rock” and I’d like to resurrect that appellation for Mad Libre because it describes them to a T. Noir-rock. Low, mysterious, even menacing at times…haunting. Masterful stuff when it comes to evoking mood and tone.
Their music is the result of that holiest of unions, excellent song-writing and excellent production. If they weren’t absolutely nailing both of those points, I would not be nearly so enthusiastic, but it really sounds like Mad Libre is the culmination of years of effort and experience. Basically, everything that came before (which was already impressive) was leading to this project.
Since what they play is as much performance art as music, the band’s upcoming gig at the Honest Pint on Oct. 30 promises to be chock-full of horror film elements, as well as a nice dose of ’70s glam.
It may be something of a niche, but in an industry where there is so much mindless repetition that even bands who specifically go out of their way to sound different wind up sounding like every other band trying to sound different (the actual definition of irony, friends), Mad Libre stands out as something genuinely original, unique and beautifully foreboding.