1. Big Muff
2. Neon Headlines
3. What’s on Your Mind?
4. Auto Dreaming
5. Disco Dystopia
Three years on from their formation, Shumking Mansion have carefully selected from their dazzling arsenal of originals, the crème de la crème of psychedelic dance-rock tunes for their EP, Disco Dystopia.
Big Muff is playfully introduced with a descending synth motif before bass and drum-soaked textures enter the mix. The stereo splitting of the track displays the high level of audio production that lovingly went into the creation of these recordings. Dick Dale of the lower registers, Shum’s rapid basslines propel the first track into a bedazzaling world of Shumking. Zaid’s vocals are full of attitude and youth, with the glissando synth at the accelerating end luring one to expect a fantastic explosive finale, which instead gives way to silence. Like a blackhole imploding, with the fantastic energy the song contains, it only makes sense.
Neon Headlines brings listeners to another room in the Shumking Mansions, exploring the rock and surprising jazz angle to the band. Following a far more conventional structure of the first, the song features washed out synth and bright rhythmic guitar work to get the body moving. Lyrical inventiveness and themes waver in this track, and shows to be a potential weakness to the band. However the music, void of cliché, puts the song in good stead. An abrupt genre shift, from disco to elevator music, lifts this track to yet another of Shumking’s highly creative compositions.
What’s On Your Mind? starts off reminiscent to a blend of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky” and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” with sharp, staccato bass jabs. Gloriously thick Booker T-esque Synth features as a refrain in this upbeat dance track, complimenting Zaid’s strong vocals. The most straight-forward track of the album, with a solid rhythm through-out, try listening without at some point grooving to the gritty drum-work of Kent.
Spaced out vocals and pedal-work collide with polyphonic instrumentals on Auto Dreaming. The heavy echoes of sweetly arpeggiated guitar make for a wonderfully colourful, almost phase shift, effect. Layerings are expertly mastered, keeping the listener engaged throughout. Zaid’s range really comes through here, the high register that the song demands harks to Joseph Washbourn from Toploader.
Disco Dystopia is the pulsing heart of a musical body on an acid trip. Minor chords blend spectacularly with major in the opening, as Beethoven’s “Da Da Da Daa” motif gets the groove treatment in their final track, the synth replaying a descending melodic line throughout, linking together the track sublimely.
Disco Dystopia is far removed from the post-apocalyptic wasteland that the name might suggest. On the contrary, the songs on the EP resound with the spectacular energy, Shumking Mansions are known to invigorate audiences with live performances. Tours around Korea and Europe have already proven the bands commitment to building their impressive splice of disco and rock, this EP stands as testament to how far they’ve come, and where they might be heading in the future.
– Ryan Harling