The Express is pleased to premiere the debut EP of Oakland's Mortar & Pestle on Post Primal Records. It's something of an emotional roller-coaster — or, at least, like being inside an emotional pinball machine. “U.V.,” the first single, does actually start with the sounds of a pinball machine, but it isn't all fun and arcade games. The tone of the somber-but-bouncy second single, "Pristine Dream," sets the mood for the album a little more accurately. Sonically languorous, lyrically disconsolate, and all-around intense, this debut's register matches the band's origin story: Vocalist Janaysa Lambert met keyboardist Paul Shinichi through a mutual friend and were quickly joined by drummer Sean Paul Duke. Woefully, the friend who brought them together passed away, but not before she christened the new group as Mortar & Pestle. The band kept the name and honored her life through music.
“Switchblade Bandita” showcases each band member at their best. Lambert's vocals can float at angelic heights over the plush sounds of the synth, but her voice can sound equally smoky and dark. The keyboards of the classically trained Paul Shinichi strikes a balance between simple beauty and nuanced expressiveness. The drum fills of Sean Paul Duke are restrained, but aren't afraid to crash in sync when the song demands it.
Mortar & Pestle will play at The Uptown on May 10 for the release show. Bring a tissue.