Mother’s Cake – ‘Cyberfunk!’

By Ellie Odurny

Ten years on from the release of their self-titled debut EP, Austrian psych rock trio Mother’s Cake present ‘Cyberfunk!’, serving up 12 tracks of space-infused prog rock mayhem. Over the past decade they’ve toured extensively worldwide, released one EP, three studio albums, and two live albums, the most recent of which – ‘Live at Bergisel’ – was recorded and filmed entirely from the Austrian ski jumping stadium in Innsbruck. With their fourth studio album, the three-piece have honed their eclectic brand of experimental psych rock to deliver a varied collection of cleverly written, deftly performed and well produced songs.

‘Cyberfunk!’ opens with the first of many non-musical sound samples on the album in the form of intro track ‘Tapedeck’, which leads to first single ‘Toxic Brother’, originally released in May. Packed with frantic vocals, irregular riffs, and a ton of distortion, this energetic number sets the album off to a flying start.

In a pattern of fast to slow, complex to simple, that seems to continue over the majority of the album, next track ‘Crystals in the Sky’ opens with a cleaner vocal, underpinned by a steady beat and psych-rock style slower paced riffs, reminiscent of those typical seventies sounds of the psychedelic scene. A classic rock guitar solo cements the retro vibes of the track, while still retaining an air of a more modern progressive record.

‘I’m Your President’ sees a return to the energetic drum licks and guitar strumming we heard on ‘Toxic Brother’, topped off with funk influenced rhythms and a healthy dose of feedback. As with many of the tracks on ‘Cyberfunk!’, ‘I’m Your President’ displays an impressively multi-faceted sound for a three-piece, layering vocals and plentiful effects over the solid trilogy of guitar, bass, and drums.

‘Love Your Smell’ slows the pace again with a ballad style verse and chorus, basic vocal layering and a simpler, foot tapping rhythm. Later tracks on the album open with this similarly leisurely, smooth sound, however ‘Love Your Smell’ remains mellow throughout, delivering a moment of calm buried within a collection of genre-hopping frenzy. Both ‘Lonely Rider’ and ‘Gloria’ begin with this slower, bluesy feel, but build to a crescendo of crashing cymbals and guitar runs, upping the intensity to a ferocious jumble of noise.

‘The Operator’ combines a mixture of retro rhythms, fuzzy bass, and modern licks in a way that showcases Mother’s Cake’s ability to exude the nostalgia of seventies groove, at the same time as bringing fresh and exciting writing to create a truly progressive sound. The elongated synth outro leading into ‘Cybernova’ ups the space rock vibes, transitioning into a track made up of dreamy choral harmonies, jazz keys, a steady electronic beat, and not a lot else. It’s essentially filler, but it serves as an effective bridge to remind us that this band can write a story gleaned from a multitude of influences while still making it utterly their own.

‘Hit On Your Girl’ brings the listener crashing back down to earth with a slap funk bass, syncopation and pitch bends aplenty. ‘The Beetle’ launches into the home stretch of the record with more traditional seventies inspired riffs, and ‘Desire’ closes with a layered electronic intro and repeating refrain, seeing us off with a healthy dose of funk tinged rock.

It’s obvious that Mother’s Cake are a talented bunch. On top of their writing and performance, the production adds a refined quality to the rawer prog stylings. With no track much over the six-minute mark, ‘Cyberfunk!’ is perhaps more commercially viable than previous releases, however the record still manages to span a variety of genres, with elements of funk, prog, blues and psychedelic rock prevalent throughout. It’s the ease with which the band marry these influences and styles together that sets them apart – and makes ‘Cyberpunk!’ another exciting addition to their already accomplished catalogue.

ELLIE ODURNY

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