We believe we’ve found the perfect album for Mother’s Day! With Mutogibito, Dalot (Maria Papadomanolaki) returns to her roots, while celebrating the newness of motherhood. She’s made an album which her young daughter Athena will likely enjoy now and brag about later.
The endearing cover art (by Violetta Testacalda) is reminiscent of nesting dolls, with a mothering twist. Those dolls don’t cradle each other like these images do. The album sways with comfort, like a child in her mother’s arms; bells and mobiles abound; and in the end, a lullaby rocks the child to sleep.
While the gentle opening track (“s2s”) sounds like recent Dalot, the album’s key tracks “Tear” and “Lift” hearken back to an earlier time. In these pieces (and to a lesser extent, “Arrival”), one can hear hints of early shoegaze and post-rock. Yes, Dalot dares to use these vintage terms and bears them with pride. With Norman Records recently going crazy over the new/old sound of Lightning In A Twilight Hour, perhaps it’s time to admit that everything old is new again. The beautiful bells and swirling guitars of “Tear” wash over the listener like classic 4AD material, while the bass bears hints of The Cure in their prime. “Lift” is an apt reflection of its title, a track of pure uplift, one of the happiest pieces Dalot has ever recorded. Each of these tracks introduces drums late, saving the surprise until the glorious end.
The birth of a child causes one to reflect on one’s own past with glazed and grateful nostalgia. In Mutogibito, Dalot appears to have rescued fragments of her oeuvre and rediscovered the joy of their creation. In the modern era, with so few artists making a living with their music, the demand of labels for “a certain sound” is gone, freeing artists to make the music they want to make. Dalot has certainly done this here. She hasn’t made an album for fans (although they will love it) or executives (if any still exist); she’s made an album from her heart, for herself and her daughter. If “being who you are” is an important lesson to impart to a child, then the best way to do it is to model it first. That’s exactly what Dalot does here, committing to glass a series of fragile pieces that reflect a sturdy soul.
The closing piece, “Her Lullaby” (with vocals by Olèna Simon) provides a perfect coda, in which Dalot cements the theme of the album and establishes herself as the coolest mom ever. She surrounds Simon with the percussive sounds of playtoys, from beeps to quacks to zaps to xylophones. As an adult, she’s remembered herself as a child, and created a sweetly uninhibited album through that lens. A Happy Mother’s Day to Dalot and to all moms who visit our site! (Richard Allen)