Review: Mark Deutrom, The Blue Bird

Ex-Melvins bassist ascends heady new heights in his trippy post-rock journey

Austin-based multi instrumentalist Mark Deutrom has carved a wide niche into the trunk of post-90s experimental music. Entering the scene in the 80s, Deutrom co-founded San Francisco’s Alchemy Records, producing the likes of Neurosis and Melvins, and eventually playing bass for the latter in the mid-90s. As a solo artist, Deutrom has quietly released an expansive body of eclectic music, underpinned by nuanced storytelling and provocative experimentalism. While it’s not uncommon for experimental music to devolve into grating, self-indulgent wankery, Deutrom has demonstrated a reliable intuition for composing mind-bending melodic voyages that never lose their sense of soul.

Deutrom’s early output at times betrayed flashes of weirdness for weirdness’ sake, but his more recent works have revealed a songwriter deeply-committed to composing electrifying new sounds and confident enough to take his time doing so. His latest album, The Blue Bird, hits fairly close to the mark. A diverse collection of jangly soundscapes and bouncy, post-rock punch-ups, Deutrom’s latest outing unfolds with a broad, cinematic flourish. Melvins fans will find much to love in tracks like the rollicking Futurist Manifesto and the indolent rumble of The Happiness Machine. But the truly captivating interludes play out in the languid ruminations of Hell Is A City, the psychedelic rapture of Somnambulist and the haunted majesty of On Father’s Day. The transition between styles never feels too jarring; rather, the album’s innate unpredictability injects it with a raw vitality. Which is why these songs demand to be heard together; taken out of context, they lose a bit of potency. To enjoy the ride to its fullest, The Blue Bird is best experienced in a single, uninterrupted session.

With The Blue Bird, Mark Deutrom has conceived a dusty post-rock landscape, lined with slow-rolling grooves and strange, hallucinatory melodies. No longer an acquired taste, Deutrom is a ferociously-talented songsmith operating well within his prime.

Rating: 8
For fans of: Pink Floyd, Melvins, Stephen Wilson
Label: Season of Mist