Review: The Mayan Factor – In Lake’Ch

 
Overall Impression
9.0


 
Lyrics
8.5


 
Musical Quality
9.0


 
Originality
8.5


 
Total Score
8.8


 

Release Date


August 19, 2003

Country


United States


0
Posted September 24, 2018 by

 
The Review
 
 

The Mayan Factor started as a local band from Maryland, USA. In its original line-up (aside from changing guitarist Brian Scott in 2008 for Johnny Burke), it existed from 2002 to 2011, the year in which singer Ray-Ray (Ray Schuler) died of a heroine overdose. Within this time frame they built up an international fan base and released two albums, “In Lake ‘ch” (2003) and “44” (2005). A third album was in the making at the time of Ray-Rays death, but was instead released at the end of 2012. By the time this first album was released, the band were still working hard to climb up on the musical ladder. The album “In Lake ‘ch” starts with its stand out track: Warflower. It has mysterious lyrics and an addictive rhythm and melody. A tantalizing, mysterious sounding guitar riff opens the song, inviting us in, making an offer we cannot refuse basically, as it is impossible at this point to stop listening. After half a minute of opening instrumentals, another guitar intertwines with the first, creating these more complex guitar interactions that come to shape the entire album to come. A bass joins in, building up the sound and anticipation. Around the one-minute mark, the song breaks through, with drums and vocals chiming in, creating an urgent sound with a haunting pace and melody, taking us on a trip. Ray-Ray’s grungy, hoarse voice is perfect for this deer in the headlight, hunted feeling. By now the lyrics of the song push to the forefront:

Got two tickets to Peridon, just can’t sleep

I’ve got no reason to worry ’cause it’s just a dream

On my way to the classroom

Lit the fire

It’s a burning desire

Murder

Water is needed

By now I start to listen more carefully, wondering to what this unsettling rhythm and melody are pushing the listener. Peridon is an anti psychotic medicine that is used in the treatment of Schizophrenia and other mood disorders. But it might not be used so literally here by the band. It might be used metaphorically in fact.

Hate seems always following

Can’t tell if I can run, can’t find my way outside

Hate seems always following

Can’t tell if I should just run or hide

Some people hold onto their misery

A token of their lives

Painted faces, warlike, they march on

Feel the end near, blinding and screaming

For blood they’d do anything

There are votes given for a very specific interpretation of these lyrics. Some say that they are describing what went on in the mind of one of the victims of the infamous Columbine High school massacre, executed by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. One of their victims is trying to run outside but unable to find his way. He reflects on the two towering young men in black:

Some people hold onto their misery

A token of their lives

Painted faces, warlike, they march on

Feel the end near, blinding and screaming

For blood they’d do anything

Columbine could be symbolized by a flower, that ends up in a war-like situation. Peridon could be referring to the afterlife, or even a state of hell, to which the two shooters are holding their two tickets at the moment of their violent, murderous outbursts. Other suggestive lines are “Fame falls all around me. Can’t tell if I should just hide or run”, which could be a poetic reference to the media fame that was almost instantly bestowed on those who fell during this massacre. And the lines “Painted faces, warlike, they march on. Feel the end near, blinding and screaming” seem to also refer to the stoic masks of evil on Klebold and Harris” faces, as they taunt their to-be-victims before shooting them, while wearing army-style combat boots. But like with many piercing stories, there is a level of mystery involved with this one, and we are not given a definite clue as to what the lyrics refer to. Ray-Ray might simply refer to the struggles of depression and/or other mental health illnesses. They surely add to the atmosphere of this amazing song though.




Sead Seferovic (Sinbadovic) made a fan video for Warflower in 2009, which turned out very fitting. A camera attached to what appears to be the dashboard of a passenger bus, or perhaps of a truck (we never get a chance to see), allows our gaze to meander disorientatingly through streets, showing us black and white impressions from a fast paced road trip. The weather looks gloomy and misty, fogging the horizon. The speed of the video seems to have heightened a bit, following the pace of the song.

After spending a disproportionate amount of space on the title track, I will also say some about the other album tracks. My favourites, apart from Warflower, are Beauty and the Beast and Aim for the Sky. Beauty and the Beast starts with a beautiful light melody played on guitar, soon followed by Ray-Ray’s plaintive, lamenting voice, bringing another immersive and melancholic tune. It immerses you like the waves and dragging your mood far away with it. The lyrics of this song are captivating and intensely gripping, seemingly referring to a mental state of depression and loneliness. The singer needs the glue of another person to face the constant demons in his closet and the darkness that surrounds him. He seems gripped by his demons and his past, struggling to escape, and they even grasp for his loved ones, possible referring to how difficult it can be to keep up relationships when depression oozes out of you, trying to infect everyone around you as well. He will try to be there tomorrow, but not even fame can help him.

“Aim for the Sky” has a more uplifting and gentle melodic tone, combined with a catchy chorus. Its lyrics are not straightforward, and to me seem to describe the effects of breaking contact with someone else has, as witnesses by the perpetrator. Whether or not he broke contact in life or by dying is unclear. A phrase like “Looking down from above” seems to infer that someone has passed and looks down from heaven. But soon after Ray-Ray sings “When I’m old and I’m wise, And my life pass in front of me, Will you remember me” and “When can I see you again”, seemingly implicating he is alive and looking for a way to reconnect.

The song “Nothing Really” has a melancholic grunge sound and sweeping chorus. “Foreplay” is an atmospheric plaintive song again, with a grunge feel to Ray-Rays use of his voice, reminding me of Kurt Cobain. “Son of Sam” starts with a similar sound, but surprises around the half-way mark with a rap section. On the one hand it gives some ‘bite’ to the song and diversity to the album as a whole, but rap combined with melancholic grunge does make for a strange song. It makes me wonder if the group was still searching for their own sound and shape at this point in time. The song “Going to Pieces” also features some (tribal sounding) rap segments, and otherwise has a strong opening with swelling guitars and almost tribal sounding drums. Ray-Rays searing voice gets free-range in this track. And “Focus Reborn” sounds like the most convincing mix of rap with progressive rock on the album.

Overall this album is versatile and has enough stand out tracks to warrant a very positive review from me. Their style with Ray-Ray on vocals his gripping, melodic and despite being dark and melancholic it is also strangely uplifting to me, thanks to a steadily pulsating energy. Aside from the more obvious grunge influences and post-rock vibes, there are even elements to this album that remind of a trance-like musical trip, as you would expect from Seventies psychedelic music, as well as some tribal influences. Aside from the deep and meaningful lyrics, I love how this band have a distinctive sound, full of atmosphere, that make them recognizable, without becoming boring thanks to a good ear for dynamic sounds and melodies that side towards the epic sound spectrum.

After 2011, the remaining members of The Mayan Factor decided to reunite and added singer Lenny Cerzosie (Le Projet). His strong voice gives the band a different sound, one with perhaps less despair. One of their recent tracks is fittingly called ‘Hope’.

Also check out the excellent stand out, haunting track ‘Hopi Elders’ from the album ’44’ by the Mayan Factor.

 

Stand out tracks: Warflower, Beauty and the Beast, Aim for the Sky

 

****

 

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Warflower (6:32)

2. Aim For the Sky (5:15)

3. Nothing Really (4:36)

4. Beauty and the Beast (4:44)

5. Foreplay (6:54)

6. Son of Sam – Prophecy (7:39)

7. Going to Pieces (5:01)

8. Focus – Reborn (8:16)

 

Line-up / Musicians

– Ray-Ray (Ray Schuler) / guitars, lead vocals

– Chuck Jacobs / percussion, backing vocals

– Brian Scott / guitars, backing vocals

– Matt Toronto / drums

– Kevin Baker / bass

 

Record Label: CD Baby

 

The Mayan Factor – In Lake’Ch: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwghDkTrc0Col8ybT8MpH0I2jalv0hk9b

 

If you like this band, also check out: The Boxer Rebellion, In Letter Form, The Twilight Sad, Interpol, Farro, Joy Disaster, Arcade Fire, The Killers, Japan Suicide, Principe Valiente, Portrayal, The Domino State, IAMTHESHADOW, Black Swan Lane, Motorama, Kino (Russian: Кино), Viktor Tsoi (Russian: Виктор Цой), Agatha Christie (Russian: Агата Кристи).

 

Extra Background info: Between 2003 and 2007, Aaron Starkie and some of his Readers band members were active in the band Omerta, signed with the respected Manchester label Northern Ambition, and had success with live concerts and with the release of several singles, which each sold out on the day they came out. When The Slow Readers Club released their self-titled debut album towards the end of 2011, it featuring several former Omerta songs (for instance ‘One More Chance’ and ‘One More Minute’) together with three new singles: ‘Feet On Fire’, ‘Sirens’ and ‘Block Out The Sun’. In 2013 the Readers released a one-off single ‘Forever In Your Debt’ and its B-side ‘Days Like This Will Break Your Heart’. The music of The Slow Readers Club has been showcased by the BBC on both Radio 6 and the corporation’s Introducing shows, as well as by XFM, NME TV, Q Radio, Sky Sports and ITV. Their concerts tend to sell out quickly and they have a compact but vibrant fan base. They also played at festivals such as the Tramlines, Party in the Pines and Blackthorn festival.

 

And of course don’t forget to check out my long youtube playlist with many good songs, mainly in the genres shoegaze, post-rock, indie, atmospheric rock, melodic metal and dream-pop.


Natalja O.

 


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