Mk.gee – ‘A Museum Of Contradiction’ review: Playful pop from the Frank Ocean-backed bedroom producer

Being stuck inside is no chore for bedroom artist Mk.gee – the LA-based artist's new mixtape is an introspective and genre-flitting landscape

It’s an apt time for LA-based bedroom artist Mk.gee to be dropping another deeply emotive release. With home production something of the new normal, a lot can be learned from this 23-year-old who’s been masterfully blurring boundaries from his pad all the while – so much so that his track ‘You’ was hand-picked by Frank Ocean for his Blonded Radio show a couple years back.

In the space of a few years Mk.gee – real name Michael Gordon – has already asserted himself as a voice of tomorrow. 2018 album ‘Pronounced McGee’ and follow-up EP ‘Fool’ delivered candid pop that sent Reddit threads fizzing. He can count himself as part of an imaginative new breed of artist alongside the likes of fellow US touring pals Omar Apollo and Dominic Fike – a bunch writing their own dialogue without a rule book, just an intense musical curiosity and dynamic set of influences.

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Gordon’s latest mixtape ‘A Museum Of Contradiction’ serves as a vital reminder of how this do-it-yourself process can be a playground of possibilities. The dissonant whale-like whomps of ‘Intro’ set a pensive and deeply delicate tone. White noise and crackle are scattered across these nine tracks offering up a cosy and intimate feel – almost like you’ve left your record player running and drifted off. This lull briefly continues into ‘cz’ before the choppy, incisive beats hit. It’s the perfect balance as his vocals ring out like a coming of age pop icon, “Does it make sense no / It really won’t be like this forever / and 22 is not forever”.

The composition offers both lo-fi vibe and warm depth. Whether that’s the flickering breakbeat percussive elements on ‘Overtime Part 1’ or the momentary angelic keys on abrupt follow up ‘Part 2’. Gordon recently tweeted that “Sometimes songs are supposed to live as a voice memo and that’s it” – perhaps telling insight into his creative process. It often sounds like he’s capturing an idea in its most natural state, offering a rough around the edges charm across house and garage on the muted groove of ‘Isn’t It So Convenient’ and even fleeting Hawaiian-slacker vibes on ‘goodbye’.

Glimmers of his guitar-playing background provide extra depth – notably on the ambient indie love song ‘dimeback’ where Gordon questions “what are you thinkin’ bout? / got something to say / say it out loud”. Elsewhere ‘Western’ is perhaps the biggest mainstream flex, with production levels at their most glossy, along with bass rumbles that Tame Impala would call their own. His pairing with London beatmaker Vegyn on ‘>;0’ comes as a beautiful minimal house track, providing a space for reflection.

It’s clear that being pulled further into the spotlight by one of his musical heroes hasn’t derailed Gordon’s approach but honed it further. As acknowledged with the mixtape title, this release merges genres from different worlds with both maturity and ease. Mk.gee is an artist with a natural ability to pair his emotional palette with vast musicality. A release that feels like an important stepping stone – you sense stardom is looming large here.

Details

  • Release date: May 22
  • Record label: IAMSOUND/Interscope Records
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