Review: “En Vivo” by Mestis

“I’ve always wanted to create a style of music that focused on being emotionally exploitative and technically sound, yet simple enough for the average music listener to appreciate. Another influence was using the eight string guitar in a form that is unconventional to the ‘trends’ or independent of characteristics that are found in music styles/genres that have popularized it. Another and important reason was to create a true form of my own independent voice as an artist. To create music that expressed my personality, upbringing, emotions and musical taste.” – Javier Reyes.

Unlike your conventional live album, rather than taking a single show warts and all or giving it mixing and mastering post production polish, Mestis (cleverly meaning a person of mixed race descent) have taken nine songs from their 2015 album “Polysemy” and it’s 2018 follow up “Eikasia” performed in different cities across the US and Canada and created a mosaic of a live album. The album originally saw Animals As Leaders guitarist Javier Reyes joined by drummer Matt Gartska, also from Animals As Leaders, Joe Lester of Intronaut alongside the CHON pairing Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel but with this record Reyes wants to bring his own sound to the live setting and in doing so remind us all of the joy of the live show…

…And that he does. The eight string Progressive Metal maestro brings the DJent groove with “Gentle Giant” which sees the curtain go up with plenty of crowd noise. There is a disparity between the audiences in the background, which you’d expect from this kind of collage affair, although moments like the Santana esq solo and Latin American flare of “Uno Mas More” makes you forget and crack a smile. The gentle meanderings of “Mt. Pleasant” are exactly that, a soundscape to the sun going down with a mountain view, uplifting mood music with technical nuance. Similarly, “Sedosa” builds gently in waves like the rays of the sun warming the soul of someone working in the garden on a hot summers day. “Pura Vida” sees the only guest of the album with Jake Howsam-Lowe who you may know better from The Helix Nebula, Scoredatura or even as the live guitarist for Plini joining in the fun in Atlanta Georgia and has greater contrast between the light and shade of nuanced guitar tones with the Jazz inspired intricacies of the drums impressing as much as an elongated Latin solo. “Ever Wonder” sees Reyes switch from an 8 string to a 6 string guitar for a more somber piece with moments of wonder and splashes of audio colour while “Eikasia” builds from the foundations of a synth backing with some eclectic wizardry. As a live album, you can smell the sweat, feel the heat and imagine enjoying the show in one of these cities followed by Pizza, Beer and conversation about what you’ve just witnessed, each song having a spellbinding quality thanks to Reyes finely crafted performances which make each moment seem completely effortless [8/10]

Track listing

  1. Gentle Giant (Los Angeles, California)
  2. Uno Mas More (San Diego, California)
  3. Mt. Pleasant (Toronto, Ontario)
  4. Sedosa (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  5. El Mestizo (Meza, Arizona)
  6. Pura Vida (ft. Jake Howsam-Lowe) (Atlanta, Georgia)
  7. Ever Wonder (Settle, Washington)
  8. Eikasia (Chicago Illnois)
  9. Media Noche (Denver Colorado)

En Vivo” by Mestis is out now via Sumerian Records

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