When you crank up the first track off Mi Ami's new album, Dolphins (Thrill Jockey) the very first thought to pummel your brain would be, "Whoops, I totally clicked on the wrong thing." Except you probably didn't. That's how confounding the transformation of the revamped Mi Ami––once a local trio, now a bi-coastal duo––is.
The remaining members, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Martin-McCormick with drummer and beatmaster Damon Palermo, morphed their genre-bending band (just imagine punk, dub, and art rock mashed into brilliant cascades of sound) into a set up that spews hypnotically pulsating, new age beats under shimmering Italo disco and pop melodies and of course, Martin-McCormick's trademark high-pitched howl, fed through a vocoder. Where there once was an onslaught of guitar, now there's synths and samplers. Instead of a drum kit, they're slamming on a 707 drum machine.
And if you think they gave each other room to mess their groove up in this uncharted territory, you'd be wrong again. Throwing themselves headlong into their new sound, the four epic tracks that weave Dolphins together sound at once ecstatic, frightened, and rife with anguish. If it sounds intense, that's because there isn't a moment when it's not. The opening jam "Hard Up" is a dance party kingmaker, full of luscious bass and bounce. "Sunrise" is as mysterious and trance-inducing as the phenomenon that gives it its name, and echoes the kind of all-nighter this music begs for. Dolphins will shake you out of your winter slumber and get you all set for Spring.