Not for the faint of heart, Rex Marshall’s newest release as Mattress is audibly visceral and uniquely his own, a mix of ghastly vocals and screeching synthesizers. And while it’s certainly not the most polished album, Eldorado EP offers plenty in the way of unabashed realism and guitar free rock and roll.
With each track backed mostly by simple keyboard loops that anybody with a twenty dollar Casio could record, Marshall cares not for the complex and the lofty; rather, he relies upon the tone and volume of the sounds to craft his portraits. The album’s opening track, “Reason To Live” is hardly anything more than an archaic drum kick and snare beat played though what sounds like a Windows 95 sound card. And while it might be simple in construct, it’s Marshall’s unmistakable and gorgeous vocals that make Eldorado worth coming back to again and again.
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If you’ve heard a Mattress album before, or any of Marshall’s other side projects, you know exactly what I’m talking about: that raspy, sinister lounge singer voice, deep and masculine yet riddled with pain and fear. “So I thought a long time about this song/ About this song, for you,” sings Marshall on “Bad Times,” a tribute to writing about other people as a cathartic release.
It’s that same emotion that runs through all of Marshall’s work, but especially here on Eldorado. Mattress seems like one big exhale of emotion for Marshall — a way of cleansing himself from the evils around him. I can’t help myself from getting lost in the album, but even more scary than our reality is Marshall’s reality, a schizophrenic desert where we’re constantly running in circles looking for answers we don’t have. Eldorado is a world unto itself, and it’s a state of mind I suggest you journey to.