Review | Barely out of his teens, Mylets raises his game on the frenetic ‘Arizona’

MyletsArizona -Headstuff.org

Arizona

[Sargent House]

“Mylets is Henry Kohen

Henry Kohen writes the music

Henry Kohen plays the instruments

Henry Kohen writes the words

Henry Kohen sings the words

Henry Kohen plays the songs live”

…so says Mylets’ Bandcamp description, an almost abrasive attempt to distinguish himself from the ‘bandy’ sound he captures on the album. It’s no surprise that under his Mylets guise, Henry Kohen is currently touring alongside And So I Watch You From Afar, given his exceptional mastery of ‘the instruments’, which, from what I can gather, include; guitar, drums, bass, keyboard, synth, and about a thousand others.

The album sets itself up immediately as a grainy and layered voyage into just about every rock genre you’ve ever heard. Guitars shred, drums play on the offbeat, time signatures fly out the window, and vocally, it all becomes a bit emo. ‘Trembling Hands’ opens the album, immediately showcasing every trick of the rock/metal trade Kohen has picked up along the way, and setting you up for the collage of styles to come.

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And what’s to come is certainly interesting. ‘King Sleep’, a two-and-a-half minute instrumental track, breaks up the album with charming electronic beats before exploding into a quirky synthy homage to bands like Turisas and Lord Weird Slough Feigh. It ultimately sounds like Kohen messing around with everything he has to hand, building up melody after melody, rhythm switching to double time for a spell, layering instrumentation, until it becomes so much more than an interlude.

The latter half of the album is where Kohen seems to really find his stride. ‘Ampersand’ is a terrific display of his use of dynamics, knowing exactly when to build upon the delicate guitar opening, juxtaposed with a harsh vocal line, until the bridge develops into a gorgeous variation of the introductory riff. Secondary vocals add another layer of tonic development until the track ends too soon, leaving you wanting just a couple more verses.

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The final two tracks, ‘Homes’ and ‘Shark’, are by far the most complex and charming of the entire album. The former is a display of melancholic tonal building, discreet and sweet to begin with, but with the addition of a gloomy tonal structure in guitar and bass, the track subverts what it initially set out to do, and becomes a moody variation on a traditional interlude. ‘Shark’ keeps the mood dark, slow, and intimate. In a styling much like the rest of the album, a simple melodic line is introduced and built up, but the difference here is in Kohen’s vocals. With a much more subdued aesthetic, Kohen holds back and lets the music do the talking, avoiding the sometimes overreaching vocals found in tracks like ‘Trembling Hands’.

Arizona speaks volumes for Kohen’s instrumental and compositional talents. He knows what elements from each genre he needs to embellish, and what ones call for subversion if he is to develop and release a fresh sound. Not every track on this record was born equal, with some rising above the rest in terms of experimentation and originality, but for a second album, for such a young man, this really is something else.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE