Mi Ami - Steal Your Face

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2010-04-05

For aficionados of no wave and the more 'out there' end of mutant disco, this second album from San Francisco's Mi Ami will be an utter joy. Richly expansive but, at a trim 30-odd minutes, never outstaying its welcome, Steal Your Face (great name, great cover) wrestles playfully with Latin and Krautrock rhythms, Eastern-tinged outer space odysseys and malfunctioning electronic bleeps. The hair-raising screams and tribal drums which open first track 'Harmonics (Genius of Love) give one a good indication of what to expect, before the track evolves into a reasonable estimation of what a jam session between surreal math rockers Battles and fearsome no wavers Erase Errata might sound like. Second track 'Latin Lover' is The Rapture's 'House of Jealous Lovers' stretched way beyond the point of enjoyment, the rhythm reduced to a compulsive itch. In a stroke of weirdy genius, helium-voiced singer Daniel Martin-McCormick quotes lyrics from Whitney Houston's seminal work of 80s soul pop 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody' before a monstrous onslaught of distorted arcade game noises annihilate everything before them. Towards the end, it mutates to sound like Sylvester's 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)' being played through a seriously fucked soundsystem. Yes, that good.

If we're nitpicking, we could say that the rest of the album never quite manages to live up to the explosive power of these first two tracks, but there's still plenty to enjoy. After its fantastic opening salvo, Steal Your Face allows the listener to take a breather in the same way Neu! albums would after a few tracks of relentless motorik pounding. And, in fact, 'Dreamers' does recall the Eastern tinged head music excursions of Krautrock bands like Neu!, Amon Düül II and early Tangerine Dream. Fourth track 'Secrets', meanwhile, could be No Age if their sound was based in early-70s prog rather than 80s hardcore. 'Native Americans (Born in the USA)', on the other hand, positively reeks of early Public Image Limited, especially with its fractured, corrosive, echo-drenched guitar. Final track 'Slow' takes us back to the trippier moments of Neu! before exploding into a tough-as-nails funk workout.

Throughout the course of Steal Your Face, it's a fun but easy game to spot Mi Ami's influences. There might not be anything especially unique here, but the fact that it's executed so well, with such power and flair, make parts of it feel almost revelatory.

Richard Morris

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