In Slaughterhouse Five, the classic novel by Kurt Vonnegut’s, the breath of the narrator is described as “mustard gas and roses” after a heavy night of drinking, and being repeated several times throughout the book, but its most significant use comes by the end of the novel, giving weight to a graphic depiction of a corpse mine during the last days of the second World War. The phrase provided the perfect balance of beauty and horror, and the same is true for the LA-based instrumental group that took on the phrase as their name.
Mustard Gas & Roses, formed by Michael Gallagher, original guitar for the post-metal band Isis, begun at first as his solo side project, but as Isis became less relevant Gallagher chose to make MGR a full-time gig. Using only his guitar, some effects, and occasionally an auxiliary instrument, Gallagher created instrumental pieces that transitioned between whispers and cataclysms. Matching Vonnegut’s style to the tee, Gallagher wove together minor dramatic pieces that all come together in a beautiful manor with overlaying tragic notes. Creating three albums on his own (Nova Lux, Wavering on the Cresting Heft, and 22nd of May) was not enough, and now the artist has chosen to release another album.
Enlisting the help of Ides of March member Jay Bennet, and Mother Tongue and Black Math Horsemen members Bryan Tulao and Sasha Popovic, Gallagher took his troops into the studio and got to work on their newest and appropriately named album Becoming. This new album features an 8-song compilation that features the normal style that has been used on MGR, but reved up to another level due to the additional members.
Becoming is the rebirth of Mustard Gas & Roses, its the elements that were so beloved in the previous albums, but now with the new members that have been added, providing dueling guitars, drums, and bass, MGR can explore musical territory that could not be explored in the past. There are new sonic forays on the upcoming album, the title track “Becoming” is a perfect example of the expanded palette that the group has to offer, with acoustic guitar providing dark and gloomy notes that crescendo with vocals and heavy rhythm that comes from the second guitar.
All-in-all this new album looks to be like some of MGR’s best work, and we can hope to see a tour following in the near future.