Art, love and heavy music

Mamiffer’s Faith Coloccia sings her secrets underground

Mamiffer’s Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia.

Mamiffer’s Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia.

PHOTO courtesy of mamiffer

Mamiffer and House of Low Culture perform Monday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m., at Café Coda. Ernesto Alvarado and CITIES open.
Cost: $8
Café Coda
265 Humboldt Ave.

Mamiffer is not a band that is easily categorized. Over the course of releasing a somewhat dizzying array of CDs, cassettes and vinyl recordings over the last six years, musically, the band has dabbled in a wide variety of palettes: from esoteric piano and noise-driven soundscapes, to more accessible, Mogwai-esque rock squall, splicing in everything from medieval choral passages to zombifying drones.

Moreover, Mamiffer isn’t even a band in the classic sense so much as it is the name under which Seattle-area artist, photographer and multi-instrumentalist Faith Coloccia catalogs her musical output, both by herself or with a revolving cast of musicians and collaborators. The most constant of these musical collaborators of late has been Colaccia’s husband, Aaron Turner, whose impeccable heavy-music pedigree includes his former band Isis, metal supergroup Old Man Gloom and his most recent project, House of Low Culture (which also includes Coloccia).

“I am the only constant in Mamiffer, and that is what defines the project,” explained Coloccia during a stop on Mamiffer’s current tour with French post-metal band Alcest. In between dates on that tour, Colaccia and Turner are playing Mamiffer-headlining shows in select cities, including a stop at Chico’s Café Coda, Monday, Sept. 30, alongside House of Low Culture.

Working with Turner has opened up Colaccia’s already broad scope of musical influences. “It has changed Mamiffer’s sound to have Aaron in the band in ways of confidence, knowing that we can have constructive critiques, and being able to trust his observations in the process of developing the music,” she said. “Many Mamiffer songs would have never materialized, as I would have thrown away the parts, but I kept them because of Aaron liking them. Also, his guitar playing and sound have influenced Mamiffer in certain directions, influencing me to play the guitar myself and base certain Mamiffer songs around it as the primary instrument.”

But these musical, not to mention practical, upshots of playing music with her husband—being able to tour together, sharing hotel rooms and treating their time on the road “like a vacation for us, because we never take vacations”—come with a downside as well. Namely, due to Turner’s time in Isis and as owner of the long-running label Hydra Head Records, Colaccia often finds herself footnoted in stories about her own musical endeavors.

“Aaron is a lot more well-known than I am and has been making music for over 17 years, and so he often gets credit in press and from fans for work I have made. I have even written entire records by myself and he has not played on them, yet he is credited as the sole creator,” Colaccia said. “It used to make me feel upset, but now I am just happy that most people understand what is going on, and that people are listening.”

Mamiffer certainly provides ample fodder for those who are indeed listening. On the heels of their current North American tour, Mamiffer will have a double-vinyl collaboration with Finnish experimental band Circle coming out Oct. 15 on Colaccia and Turner’s own label, SIGE Records. And there’s a new dedicated Mamiffer full-length set for December and two live cassettes to be released in the interim. According to Coloccia, the Mamiffer material in the live setting, as documented on the live recordings, and especially on this current tour, can “differ immensely” from the studio recordings. “The live experience is very vulnerable, especially on this tour, as the line-up is only Aaron and me. We leave room for improvisation, whereas in the studio everything is calculated.”

Ultimately, this element of chance, of capturing a musical happening, is at the heart of what Colaccia envisioned for the Mamiffer project. “My compositions come from an untrained perspective, but are informed and influenced by inherited memory, chance and heart.” It’s not metal, but it’s definitely heavy.