by Malik Hall
Summoning the ether is not something one does by force, it comes to one naturally and unexpectedly. Majjin Boo essentially taps into spiritual essence and transforms it into an audible medium.
Majjin Boo has slowly gathered up band members over the past few years since its inception with vocalist/guitarist Frank Roberts and lead guitarist Zavi Harman. The indie rock group is now six members strong. Influences from a vast variety of sources a la Manchester Orchestra, heavier tunes like Every Time I Die and whatever new psychedelic podcasts to which Roberts is currently listening, shape the direction of the band.
Go Between is the first album released by the band, and its tone is emotional and somber in a good way. The drastic tempo changes and Harman’s adept soloing combined with Roberts and vocalist Megan Paul’s clashing but harmonizing vocals makes it resonate with your soul. The title Go Between is a nod to Shamanism, which is a big interest of Roberts.
“To Go Between is like your rough transformation of shaman. Like ‘shaman’ basically means that you’re going in between different layers of reality. Basically, in a nutshell, I guess I would say Go Between as an album is about transcending every day, like day to day, just like living multiple lives. It’s about a weird off connected web space,” said Roberts.
Roberts’ songwriting style reveals his longing for ephemeral moments. He began writing some of his songs in his late teenage years, only to revisit and revise them from his present-day perspective. His interests and experiences with other cultures expresses itself in his songwriting, as some songs are written from the point of view of a life he will never know.
“Tribe” is a prime example. It is written from the perspective of two individuals who have been cast out by their ‘tribe.’ One viewpoint is from a Paleo-Indian migrating into the Americas as its first inhabitant and fending for himself in the wilderness, the other from a woman whose village was burned down by pagans, leaving her on her own. The song has parallel lyrics which brings both characters together and makes the listener question their own tribe and place in the world.
“The whole thing is kind of a trip to me that just like traveling through like different people, different characters is a lot, a lot of biography and autobiography. I don’t even know who is writing half the time. Sometimes I’ll get hooked on a specific topic, and I’ll actually like research and all life focus on writing that part, but it’s even weird that even thought of it,” said Roberts.
2016’s Majjin Boo Demo was technically their first LP. Two out of its three songs are also on Go Between. The Demo is lacking the complementary vocals of Paul, the steady drums of Jesse Marcus, Jono Stewart’s slick bassline and the precision keyboard playing of Hicham Benhallam. Note that the mastered “Criminal” and “Howl” on Go Between are undeniably more polished than the original with additional band members studio backing them.
“Jono (Stewart), our bass player, comes from like super jazz background, experimental jazz backdrop. So he just takes crazy riffs and like all these like different things and comes up with an eclectic mix, and I feel like it’s like so much of our sound. It is like this is wild thing that we like to try to like tame back and like pull back fully. It’s like that’s I think what makes this band unique,” said Harman.
Richmond’s premier indie label, Egghunt Records, picked up the band relatively quickly after the label’s executive, Adam Henceroth, became an instant fan after one of their live performances. “I think it was just Adam (Henceroth) was the person that like really like caught on first and like I remember us playing at a show and him like just really loving the band and the music and so I always remembered that,” said Harman.
Since joining the label, Majjin Boo has been able to focus purely on their music. Go Between’s quality is an obvious by-product of the studio’s endless resources. From having full creative freedom to being fronted money for merchandise, Egghunt has held it down for Majjin Boo.
“I’ve done booking on my own, and I can contact play-listers on my own, but it’s still a lot of work. It’s like a full time. Each of those things are a full-time job, and like when we’re all working, going to school like trying to write music, having labels to do those things is just incredible,” said Harman.
October 25th was the album release party for Majjin Boo during a WRIR 97.3 Halloween themed event. Majjin Boo were all decked out in fitting NASA costumes for their spacy lyrics. Labelmates Gold Connection along with local RVA indie acts Antiphons, Castle Og and HotSpit also performed. Unfortunately, the six-piece band has now become five as they lost their vocalist, Megan Paul, after the album release show.
Go Between has been out since the beginning of the month and is a must listen. Hopefully, Majjin Boo will release visuals to go along with the sonic psychedelic experience.
On NOV 26, Space Litter Records will be infiltrated by several indie rock acts; Tennessee’s Sinai Vessel, New York’s Ben Seretan and stay tuned to catch the next performance by Majjin Boo.
I’m just another wanderer trying to find his place in the world. Just call me your friendly neighborhood something!