Mark Nieto has tangled with the Los Angeles underground for the better part of the last decade, appearing regularly on local radio, playing parties and fine-tuning an aesthetic that fits comfortable at the intersection of instrumental guitar music and experimental electronic structures. It’s as COMBAT! that Nieto’s various projects and influences meet though and this Fall the native Angeleno will release his debut self-titled album on Friends of Friends. ‘COMBAT!’ is comprised of 13 songs that fall at various points along the intersection of experimental guitar music and an array of electronic sounds, ranging from house on one end of the spectrum and ambient on the other. With the thought of crafting optimal music for emotional drives around Los Angeles, COMBAT! recorded the ‘COMBAT!’ LP while traveling around the globe, garnering wisdom from an array of locales while always keeping his indomitable Southern California heritage in peripheral focus.
With past relationships, growing pains and an unavoidable sense of place (and displacement) forming the emotional crux of the album, tracks like “Days of Dust” and “Heavy Accent” are deeply evocative efforts, full of harmonically complex guitar bits, organic rhythms and a deeply understood sense of atmosphere. The album is entirely instrumental, but with energetic highs like “Jacaranda” and “Open And Close The Globe”, you’d be hard-pressed to not be completely enveloped in COMBAT!’s world as his self-titled debut hits peaks and valleys rarely found on a debut release. And while this is COMBAT!’s official debut, real Los Angeles heads will know him from past projects and a long-running KXLU show, all components of his greater musical history.
“Nieto’s atmospherics owe as much to house and hip-hop as they do anything else, with minor refrains that linger as the melody carries on, echoing the hypnotic unease of a long dusk drive across LA.”
“Heavy Accent” is an impressive introduction, and if the Friends of Friends co-sign didn’t leave you convinced, one listen certainly will.”
– Passion of the Weiss