What’s in a name? Well, this York trio have certainly picked a good one, naming themselves after the Studio Ghibli masterpiece ‘Princess Mononoke’. Furthermore, one of the film’s central characters – the ‘Forest Spirit’ – is represented on the arresting cover of their debut EP, Tom Finigan, with a pair of large antlers protruding from the head of an owl.
The EP sees the band shift between melancholy math rock and visceral noise rock, with the occasional trek into prog territory and jazz drumming thrown in for good measure. Proceedings openly strongly with the nimble ‘Liz Prince’; its chiming guitar appears to be in conversation with itself while being backed by strong percussion and underscored with complementary bass. The following song, ‘Happy Trails, Hans’, builds on the sound presented in the opener, but takes it down a more melancholic and heavier direction. The highlight here is the impressively technical and taut guitar playing. ‘Leonardo Di Caprisun’ appears to simply follow the same template as the previous two songs, but it manages to shake things up with the unexpected vocal cry that arrives around the halfway point. Closer ‘Kilgore Trout’ finds the band at their best, effortlessly sliding between the two main styles presented from the start. In fact, their louder side reaches its peak with this track, as a good portion of it consists of fuzzy heaviness that bombards the listener into submission. It is then rounded off on a peaceful and introspective note.
If there is one flaw to be found on Tom Finigan, it’s that all the songs largely follow the same structure and do sound somewhat similar. However, any chances of this becoming a one-note affair are quashed with the quality of the musicianship on display. This alone makes the EP engaging, interesting and most importantly for a debut, promising.
Words: Matt Jones