Chicago-based jam outfit Mungion (pronounced Mung-Yin) has been turning heads since bursting onto the scene in the spring of last year. With excitement building from their exploratory live outings, Mungion’s steadily growing fan base has been eagerly awaiting the band’s first full-length studio offering, Scary Blankets, released today on iTunes and various other platforms.
Despite high expectations, the album does not disappoint, delivering a satisfying taste of their wide-ranging abilities and influences. The ambitious eight-track set serves as a sort of sonic resume for the fledgling act. With time allotted for showing off the well-trained musical abilities of each individual band member, as well as the complex compositional abilities of the band as a whole, Scary Blankets never loses hold of your interest and attention over its entire hour-long run time.
The album begins with the 13-minute jazz-fusion epic “Beneath The Shallows,” featuring jazz-inspired composed instrumental sections, sunny, note-perfect vocal harmonies, a slow-burning piano vamp, and a ripping guitar peak with shades of Derek Trucks’ signature tone.
The next track, “Myrtle,” brings out the funk, as up-tempo percussion and chunky, wah-drenched keyboard grooves segue into jazz-infused rock with the help of some economically utilized digital delay before a hypnotic, Abbey Road-esque close-harmony vocal vamp brings the song to a close.
The inspiration of their jam scene peers is evident throughout. “Schvingo” and “Hindsight,” built from catchy, strolling bass lines and prog-guitar wailing both deliver handily, displaying the influences of well-loved acts on the band, from Pat Metheny to Frank Zappa to Jimmy Herring and beyond. These influences are perhaps most obvious on songs like “Nuthead,” a character-based, multi-movement composition that inevitably reminds of another “-head” from a certain legendary Vermont quartet.
While their influences and stylistic tendencies are pretty obvious throughout, it’s clear that the band sought to create a set of music that was rich, varied and immersive — not just a collection of tunes, but a cohesive, complex sonic story that keeps the listener on their toes. Over the course of the album’s 57+ minutes, the group manages to simultaneously sound enjoyably familiar and refreshingly original. Scary Blankets is an impressive first installment for a band that continues to show tremendous potential. Mungion has officially arrived, and from the way things sound, we’ve only just scratched the surface of what they have to offer.
You can check them out live in their hometown this weekend, where the band is set to play a Phish afterparty at Chicago’s Tonic Room on June 24th.
Stream the whole album via SoundCloud below: