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Stop and Smell the Roses with Malady

SVART - Malady - Toinen Toista artwork

No matter how you acquire your music, you must pay for it with your time. Listening to a song enters the audience into an unspoken agreement with the artist. If you are generous with your time, you will be repaid in kind. By design, the efficient machines that deliver us art teach us to consume with efficiency in mind. The songs that demand less time are a “safer” choice in a transactional sense; even if they don’t deliver on their end of the agreement, the next good deal is only three minutes away. Under these rules, songs like “Nurja Puoli,” the mammoth new track from Finnish prog act Malady, take on a disruptive cool. Instead of washing past in the constant flow of a playlist, Malady suspends you from the stream.

“Nurja Puoli” works best if you believe in the power of delayed gratification. Malady anchor the track with a lilting guitar harmony that could, by itself, serve as the hook to a much shorter and more “efficient” song. Instead of putting this melody front and center, they hide it inside a sprawling musical hedge maze. This is a calculated risk. The band are betting that by delaying the introduction of this central theme, they’ll make its arrival all the more powerful. They double on this gamble by holding off this theme’s return long enough to suggest that it may never return at all. Thankfully, the bet pays off. Each time the guitars lock into harmony, every twist and turn that “Nurja Puoli” then takes feels justified, like the only logical path to glorious clarity.

Those moments when the maze opens to a clear view are only worth the effort because its digressions and dead ends are such a joy to wander through. Once they established “Nurja Puoli”‘s main theme, Malady take leisurely strolls past progressive rock’s signature motifs. Guitar solos give away to bass solos, which give way to flutes, which lead to lush organs, which transition the song into another set of solos, and so and so on. Attempting to describe a progressive rock song of this length beat-by-beat is about as useful as describing a tree by detailing each individual leaf. The point is what they do in composite. Each catches enough light on their own to give life to something bigger and more beautiful than itself.

Modern music consumption isn’t built for looking at trees or wandering through mazes. We live in a culture of straight lines and constant motion. Malady ask that you opt out, reclaim your time, and slow the fuck down for once. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Toinen Toista will be released on March 30th via Svart. Follow Malady on Facebook.

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