Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Let's go back a bit, to the time of Ronald Reagan and cargo pants; to that post-innocence time of Miami Vice, the first Terminator, and the rise of New Wave. If that's familiar ground, you'll have a feel-good about Missions. If not, they'll give you a taste of the best of that era, sonically-speaking.

"Missions", in context, is the Austin-based indie band pictured here. That's Josh Mills in the center, Amber Zook on the left there, and Markus Diffee on the right. Check out the abundance of keyboardage: That's a big clue as to what you can expect from this trio.

Now "Missions", as a word, is something that the big brains at HostBaby would put the ix-nay on for a band name - It's so common that a Googling wouldn't lead you straight to the band's main web presence. And sure enough, there's been some web-address shenanigans forced on the trio - They've taken up virtual space (on both the web and Facebook) under the name "Missions In Space". As Josh describes it:

'Missions' was our chosen band name, but 'missionsinspace' was a way to claim our place on the internet and gmail amongst all of the other varieties of things, groups or organization with the word "missions" in it. People call us both things and we don't really mind, but we like space and science as themes for our music, so it's nice to have the 'inspace' suffix to clear up any possible confusion.
[Sign 'o the times - Where search engine optimization and URL boundaries are the lynch pins to deciding your musical moniker.]
Though 2 out of the 3 performing members originate from yonder Dallas, Missions is Austin-formed and based, established in 2009, and have performed their keyboard magic in most of our finer clubs - Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlies, Wurhaus, The Parish, Emo's, Red 7, Beauty Bar, Victory Grill, Stubbs, Elysium, Barbarella, Art Authority...

We mentioned "performing" - Josh, Amber, and Markus play the synths, Kaoss pads and drum triggers on stage. But Josh is quick to include not only Jeff Ferris as an aide-de-camp Missioner, but the guys who project the visuals at showtime too; VIDKIDZ (Zak Loyd and Melanie Clemmons), as can be seen in the background of this pic:

Says Josh - "The shows wouldn't be as intense without them".

That may be so, but the music stands up pretty well without the visuals. Get a load of the synth-a-pated goodness of their "Phantasy" track:

Sound vaguely familiar? Those synths, electro-snap drums, and reverbed vox give Missions a very 80-ish sound. But Mission's isn't a throw-back band, their instruments of choice are just that, sonic textures associated with a bygone era: The compositions themselves are much better than 9/10ths of 80s tunes, tending to the techno/trance side; more alternative, experimental even.

Check out how "Darrk Blakk" is built on one groove; a cool synth line that slides us through the chord progression:

Now try out the poppish, hand-clapping good "Wavelength" for a glimpse of their radio appeal:

That's their sound: Saw-toothed-synth-powered, danceable 80-ish-sounding numbers, heavy on the electronic percs, peppered with bomb-kick drums and handclaps; highlighted with darker chorus-flanged vox; accessible as any pop, as dense as any trance, as danceable as any electronic. And as good as any techno band playing Austin.

Though they've got an expensive sound, you're listening to DIY bedroom-studio productions here. And you'll hear more soon enough: The plans are for a 7" release "Soon", and a brace of gigs - Some in Austin (May 19th at The Ghost Room), some as far away as Brownsville. Catch 'em if you can, they come highly recommended.

We'll leave you with a collection of their cuts:

As you might expect from science-embracing techno wizards, you can find Missions all over the web: Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, Tumblr, and Home Base.

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