Marco Mahler makes dreamy minimalist folk-pop out of Portland. His sophomore release, Laptop Campfire Speed, is the sort of album you’d expect from someone who is brilliantly skilled yet mired by late night insomnia. Soft and introspective, the album has the script of a perfectionist and the quietude of the bedroom. Now I have no clue if Mahler lives in a house with others or an apartment complex or whatnot, but I can visualize him tinkering away at the deepest hours of night, recording a bit here, adjusting levels there, painfully pulling out as much volume as possible while simultaneously ensuring the levels were set just low enough as to not wake the roommates/neighbors, and imbibing a strong bit of coffee in between.
In some ways Mahler’s music reminds me of the hidden folk gem from a few years ago by Kevin Hume, that being his album The Truth About Ants & Aphids. He has a similar melodic, soft spoken vocal style. I can see coming back to Marco Mahler on occasion too, thinking about how great this album was and wondering why more people weren’t aware of it. Hume has had that effect on me since 2007, and I can see Mahler joining him in that role. Both, too, have a style that is quite their own, one not easily compromised yet entirely accessible.
“Cell Phone Antenna Trophy” and “I’ll Just Find A Million Other Things To Do” are the highlights, only in that they are just slightly larger highlights than the other songs on Laptop Campfire Speed. Further songs like “Pressure Drill Got Lost At Sea” add an electronic edge to them with soft bleeps and bloops, hinting lightly at a Postal Service reference (but only just slightly). Each style is cohesive with the other, making Laptop Campfire Speed an album that works just as well as a whole as it does in parts. One thing is for sure; Macro Mahler deserves widespread attention beyond the likes of FensePost. He’s been covered on My Old Kentucky Blog and Off The Radar, so it’s good to see that the attention is starting to build.
1. The Trees Have Fallen And The Birds Are Ripe
2. James Alley Blues
3. Beautiful Monsters
4. Cell Phone Antenna Trophy
5. Soft As A Train
6. I’ll Just Find A Million Other Things To Do
7. Jump This Fan
8. Don’t Buy Cows If You Don’t Have The Time
9. Pressure Drill Got Lost At Sea
10. Sample Of A Sample