Today we witness the sad but beautiful supernova of FKA Mandark, one of our favorite acts in the Pacific Northwest. The band’s agile but agitated sound bounces between emo, post-hardcore, and math rock, but never without a raw sense of self.
Loose Ends takes things to another level though, with a higher sense of urgency and grittier, bolder production. Will Hardwick, at this point the sole member of the project, recorded everything we hear, which is downright scary when you consider the variety on display here. For instance, check out “Hungry Ghosts” below. It combines the acid-absurd punk of Tera Melos and expansive, visionary scale of And So I Watch You From Afar, but also smacks of Title Fight and Senses Fail.
There’s a cavernous depth to the feel and psychology behind this thing as well. Being that Loose Ends is the final FKA Mandark record (and first if you consider the slight alteration to the band’s name) it’s a bittersweet symphony in every sense. However, Will seems to have come up with a rather interesting solution for that situation as well. You know, on top of making one of the coolest records we’ve heard all year.
If you head to their Bandcamp page, you can purchase a “Compendium USB Drive” that comes with the innermost workings of the band. From Ableton files and live videos to unfinished songs and a variety of tabs, it’s a hell of a lot, and an inspired way to see that the life of your project is recycled and reused. Just like their last offering, Loose Ends is dense with intricate parts, so there really is a radical amount of content to sift through here even if you’re just looking for some samples.
Yet perhaps even more than on Failed Experiments, these songs seem ready to stand the test of time. Loose Ends is chock-full of anthems for the Disinformation Age, whether or not they engage with the album’s overall meta narrative. “Stroll Into the Light (Outro),” “Part Time Comedian, Part Time Prophet,” and “Microplastics (We’ve Always Done it This Way)” are chilling, prog soaked letters to conspiracy, self-doubt, and blazing guitars. When the last note of “Microplastics” rings out abruptly, you can’t help but feel robbed of more time with the band. Of course, we still have that nifty little USB to get into.
FKA Mandark had a solid run, and they put on a pretty great live show back in the day as well. In fact, this writer’s band played a couple shows with them on a tour with Sloth and Turtle in 2019, and they blew us away. I was also happy to note that both of our bands had sampled the late, great Terrence McKenna on our records, which was kind of a thing for math rockers to do back in the day. We miss that.
Personal connection aside however, Loose Ends shows an immense amount of growth for the band, even if at this point when we say band, we really just mean Will. It’s a glowing supernova of a record, and as sad as we are that it’s over, we’re glad we got to see it one last time.
FKA Mandark burn out on their own terms here, and the results are seriously staggering – we’ve actually been sitting on this review for a couple months now, so we’re stoked to finally spread the word! Don’t forget to visit their Bandcamp page here and pick up that USB! We’ve got a couple more articles to pump out before the year’s end, so stay tuned. Oh, and if you love us and want to help us keep the site running smoothly, buy us a coffee over here. Otherwise, see you soon!