It can’t be stated thoroughly enough just how much Mi’ens benefit from a studio-booth finishing session. Kim Glennie and Evan Johan, the sonic titans behind the math-rock project, seem to have been plagued in live performances by mismatched sound systems, and Glennie’s brand of looped guitar noise can overpower and muddle even the mightiest of amplifiers.
All of these troubles make it a rewarding experience to hear experimentalsparklenoisepop, the duo’s first LP, and to hear Mi’ens as the band members have always intended. Each song starts with a basic guitar loop before expanding on itself with multiple overlays, tempo changes, and flourishes; the band aren’t exactly rewriting the world of math music, but it’s refreshing to hear each glitchy electrical riff in the clarity it deserves.
Standout tracks here are the ones that break from the mould Glennie relies on in a live setting. “Sparklecore” manages to sound even fuller than the tracks preceding it without the benefit of a looped guitar track, and instead hammers home with beautiful, tremolo-rich arpeggio chords and even the muted whisperings of Glennie herself, gracefully presented just below the mix of the quiet instrumentation.
Elsewhere, the rabid “Pointillist Pilot” plays like a forgotten Fugazi song minus Ian MacKaye’s indignation. The instrumental refrains are to the point and carry some of the most interesting guitar-work on the record. As the fastest song of the eight, it stops well short of wearing out its welcome which, at times, can be the main fault with Mi’ens’ debut offering. While closer “Terrorist Attraction” is the most diverse—and best—track of the bunch, it highlights that the duo don’t need loopers to create intricate and fantastically full-sounding noisescapes. Another instrument might go a long way in continuing the excellence that Mi’ens have gotten on tape in the studio, but for now it’s enough to sit back and wonder at the amount of crazy sounds two people can put out at once.