My Majestic Star
Ideas Are the Answer
t's fitting that I write this review late at night, half delirious from the head cold that has sucked my weekend dry of anything approaching productivity (even the fun kind). But to be honest, even before my throat ossified into a dry gulch and my head swelled up with dead germs, the debut from Chris Mason's bedroom alias My Majestic Star was keeping me company on many of the nights I didn't manage to make it out, and the mornings spent waking up over the course of hours.
Mason is part of the glaciating shift in what it means to be a bedroom musician; for years the usual description would feature acoustic guitars heavily and not much else, but these days everything from rap to techno to indie rock can be cranked out next to your computer; My Majestic Star is the first example I'm aware of to turn out solo ambient post-rock. A few guitars, some keyboards, sampled crowd noise; Mason is surprisingly deft with these ingredients, managing to turn out everything from the experience of being a wallflower at a party (“Half Measures”) to biking through the country on a warm summer night (“Thirty One”) to lying on a hillside, watching the sky (the nearly solo guitar “Coffee Stains and Beer”).
What's most striking, as those descriptions indicate, is the lack of aggression. My Majestic Star's songs (as gauzy and atmospheric as Ideas Are the Answer gets these are still definitely songs) reach for the sky like all the best post-rock but you never get the sense he's trying to blow your face off, even on the relatively high gear “Keep the Keys from Me.” Tellingly, that song is followed with the garbled monologue of “You Greet Me with Night Laughter,” where Mason's penchant for obscuring the human voice again evokes more than it provokes. There's a story in there somewhere, but it's not really our story, and knowing it's being told winds up being more important than eavesdropping
“Carry the Breeze” evokes some of the gentler remixes on Mogwai's Kicking a Dead Pig, but mostly Mason steers well clear of obvious influences. He manages to make music from relative isolation that like a lot of absolutely solo work tends towards the quiet and wounded, but Ideas Are the Answer is optimistic from the title on down; this a record that respects and honors our melancholy without ever falling for the fallacy that it's a permanent state of affairs. It's rootless music for the hours alone—literally, as Hidden Shoal is a digital label and there is no physical correlate for this. It exists across the globe, modestly soothing where it can, one computer at a time; it's a hell of a lot more pleasant than Neo-Citron, and it's still there in the morning when you wake up.