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Steal Your Face

Thrill Jockey
thrill 237 - 2010

LP version includes artworked inner sleeve and free download coupon.  CD version comes packaged in a 4 panel mini-LP style gatefold package with 4 panel insert.

Mi Ami is committed to their own particular joyful noise, to the intersection of vicious high-energy playing with ebullient communal experience. To this end, the live shows are about creating a vibrant emotional space in which waves of music/sound guide the band and audience through a psychic space marred with claustrophobia, paranoia and dread, yet emerging into the light of ecstatic being.

In 2010, pretty much every band on the planet has some dub records at home and a few boutique effects pedals in their “rig.” The rise of Ethiopiques and high-quality afrobeat-etc compilations, pan- genre tastemaker websites, specialty blogs and a general cultural climate of chic, post-”world music” exploration has rendered normal--even mundane--the multi-culti-record-nerd-musician who was part of an iconoclastic, forward thinking avant-garde only a few years back. Legend has it that when Fugazi came on the scene, the punx were shocked at their incorporation of funky basslines and slower tempos. These days, the tables have turned and a working knowledge of rap, disco, dub, club and world music basics is as pedestrian as eating a burrito for lunch and Thai for dinner. By the same token, the once-stifling constrictions of hardcore so beloved by those self-same punx have mutated into a semi-classical freedom for a few brave souls. As with late-period Coltrane, the ultra-assault of Infest or Negative Approach has become a field of study for those wishing to purify their rage into a constantly accelerating attack. Unlike that musical prophet, however, the ragers of today find the most success (to my ears) in mining a well- established sound and bringing it back to life with convincing fervor. It sounds great, and it’s not too muddled by a lot of cumbersome thinking. To wit, the same principle applies to much of the lo-fi, beach-centered rawk ‘n’ roll that’s coming out of the cassette four track nation, with the only important variable being in the actual sound of the music.

It is in this climate that Mi Ami defines itself, not by turning forward to the future or back to the past, but rather inward. To reference musical hero (one among countless) Morton Feldman, what if instead of either/or, it’s neither/nor? As our new decade dawns, does anyone care about the ingenuity of your cultural grafting? Does anyone need to know which obscure, lost track or “correct” influence you have up your sleeve, paradoxically paraded as a mark of your own impeccable taste while at the same time held close like a secret recipe? The answer is, of course, a resounding “No.” But let’s not trip ourselves up with reactionary thinking. We each have our station, and Mi Ami begrudges no one who does their own, and by extrapolation, God’s work. Taking as given the myriad influences strewn across decades and even centuries past, as well as across continents, language barriers and even in a few rare cases, galaxies, how does one begin to describe the actual sound of the music?

There are a few key things that distinguish this record from past transmissions. Twelve weeks of touring in 2009 transformed the band from what friends described as a “fun time party band” into a lean, tight, near-telepathic unit, which remains fun. The relentless playing of the past spring, from California to Latvia and back, took the band to newfound depths of nuanced, pre-verbal communication and opened up new neural pathways where creativity had previously been kept from flowing. Upon returning home, confident in their abilities, Mi Ami set out to write the bulk of Steal Your Face.

Where before, melodies had been suggested, here they are fully developed. Where structure had previously meandered, here each song uses a minimum of means to “get to there,” allowing the playing to fly free. And, where lyrics had been left unprinted, here they are laid out completely, an integral part of the music. Technically, there are four components to Mi Ami’s music: Drums, Bass, Guitar and Vocals. And yet,essentially there is only one: the unified sound, more than the sum of its parts, each individual component coming from and returning to the singular whole.

The music was recorded once again by Phil Manley at Lucky Cat Studios. As with Watersports, the entire process took five days, with all tracks performed live and vocals overdubbed. Working for a third time with Manley meant that by the time of recording he had acquired a deep and full understanding of Mi Ami’s music, and was able to take certain calculated risks other engineers might not. Thus, the album is far and away Mi Ami’s finest sounding, and the one which is most aligned with their live show. Each track was approached with unique sonic characteristics in mind, from the claustrophobic mind-scape of “Harmonics (Genius of Love)” to the fading light of “Dreamers” to the sharp, lacerating tone of “Latin Lover” to the avant boogie of album closer “Slow.” Anyone interested in understanding what Mi Ami is about would do well to start with this album. More concise than Watersports more confident than their other pre-Thrill Jockey releases and better sounding than anything else they have done, Steal Your Face marks their arrival as a fully-formed, organically mature band.



  • 1 Harmonics (Genius Of Love)
  • 2 Latin Lover
  • 3 Dreamers
  • 4 Secrets
  • 5 Native Americans (Born In The U.S.A.)
  • 6 Slow