w/ Been Stellar
‘Heart Under’, Just Mustard’s second album and first for Partisan Records, is an album that asks you to forget what you know. At every turn, this remarkable record reconfigures and stretches the ideas and ambition of a rock band, and turns a year of lockdown and personal struggles into a breathtaking artistic statement.
The music the five friends from Dundalk, Ireland make is strikingly untraditional. Though to look at them, it appears that the band are a five-piece with uniform make-up of a vocalist, two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer, not a single one of them utilizes their instrument in a confined or regular fashion. Guitarists David Noonan and Mete Kalyoncuoglu make their six-strings shriek and wail, the sounds produced sounding like everything from whirring machinery to horror movie monsters. On the introduction to the dark and dangerous ‘Seed’, it’s half-way to being a techno beat. On a great deal of the album, this harshness is juxtaposed by watery, swelling guitar chords that add a dreamy texture to the record alongside the more aggressive, industrial tones. “This is just a piece of wood with some metal strings attached – you can do whatever you want with it,” Mete says of his approach to his instrument.
The title, ‘Heart Under’, comes from the lyric “the heart under its foot” from the song ‘Sore’, and throughout the recording, the band discussed the idea of wanting the listener to feel like they’re on a train going through a tunnel. In every facet of the album is a physical and emotional intensity, with each note of dissonant guitar, thwack of a drum or piercing lyric hitting you right in the chest, just as intended.
After the band had finished recording and producing the album, ‘Heart Under’ was pushed even further into singular territory when the band worked with mixer David Wrench, whose previous collaborators include Frank Ocean, Let’s Eat Grandma, Jamie xx, FKA twigs and beyond. “We wanted someone who had done pop and electronic records and didn’t just work within rock music,” Katie says, with David adding: “I learned so much from what he did with the record. He put the spotlight on some things in the mix that we had no idea about, and he created so much extra space.”
Though written in the depths of 2020, ‘Heart Under’ is a personal document of a time that doesn’t comment on realities of the outside world. “I always write about what’s going on inside my head rather than anyone else’s,” Katie says. “We all use music to escape, and it’s good to have a break from life with music.”
An album not categorisable by genre or era, ‘Heart Under’ is a guitar album with guitars that don’t sound like guitars, an album that stretches traditional frameworks to make a thrillingly unique sound, and an album like little else you'll ever hear.
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