Machinefabriek & Fever Spoor - Deviaties
(Anima Mal Nata AMNCD046)
For the listener, there's a risk inherent in any split album. as you all know, with any new album there's always that moment of sweet, sweet trepidation. will this be a good one? With split albums this is magnified tenfold. You've had the 'moment of sweet, sweet trepidation' and it's paid off, the album is a corker but your pleasure is going to be short lived if the second half isn't up to it. Which means that you have the 'moment of sweet, sweet trepidation' all over again plus you have the possibilty of some nasty man taking your new toy away.
Machinefabriek provide two long tracks (one mellow, one harsh). the first, slowly transforming guitar and noise unfolding in waves of fuzz that you can feel washing through the recesses of your ears, the second an altogether noisier affair adding percussion and lots of old-school digital noise to the mix. I'd only previously heard one track by him (on the 'Wire Tapper 15' freebie cd) and had loved it. This triples my tally and, as they used to say on lame 80's quiz shows, everyone's a winner.
Fever Spoor happily gives my neurosis the kicking it deserves as he takes the ambience established by machinefabriek and moulds, twists and stretches it into his own vision. With a pallette that mirrors that used on the previous two tracks but with plenty of ideas of his own, Marcel (Fever Spoor) Herms employs drones and the vaguest of rhythms to fine effect. His audio textures envelop and caress, they grab and they prod, they claw and they spit and, when they're done doing all that, they rub up against you like a sandpaper cat.
Phil Maggi - Lucilia Caesar
Phil Maggi, at least according to the accompanying press sheet, is a busy little beaver, being a member of 3 groups as well as releasing this his first album of solo works. It's a good listen too. Utilising samples from a variety of contemporary classical recordings alongside his own sounds and a variety of indeterminate voice samples Maggi is actively and methodically constructing a reality designed to his own specifications. A little overly repetitive in places and with an atmosphere that is almost unrelentingly dour excludes this from being something that I'd choose to listen to everyday but for the most part it's an intriguing piece of work that just needs the addition of that little missing something extra (maybe varying the ambience) to push it into being compulsive listening.
Phil Maggi - Blue Fields In Paramount
(Idiosyncratic Records idcd002)
My second exposure to the work of Phil Maggi after last years ‘Lucilla Caesar’ release on Hyperblasted is this excellent piece of sound collage based around recordings made in Zagreb.
Maggi has mixed a variety of recordings some mundane, some not so, with a variety of unspecified sound sources and samples.
The strength of this recording lies in it’s restless diversity. Maggi keeps the proceedings flowing at an even pace giving everything just enough time in the spotlight to show their stuff before it moves on to something else. Some parts I found myself wishing for more exposure to - the beggars singing at the 11 minute mark - but equally there are sections that I thought were a trifle overplayed - the long period of back-tracked sound around the 20 minute mark.
‘Blue Fields In Paramount’ is though a rarely less than enthralling listen that is deserving of your time and attention.
Radu Malfatti - Wechseljahre Einer Hyäne
Now this is rather wonderful. Composed by Malfatti and realised by Intersax this is 4 saxophonists (1 soprano, 1 alto & 2 baritones) playing gentle, single note phrases - possibly the length of a breath - amidst extended periods of silence. It's immaculate minimalism mirrors the beauty of a Morton Feldman composition and is utterly bewitching in every way.
Marsfield - The Towering Sky
(Faraway Press 16)
This album is like an octopus. It’s a many tentacled beast afloat in the murky depths manipulating it’s appendages in a manner that is not easily understood by onlookers but makes perfect sense to the octopus itself. It’s beautiful to behold, graceful beyond belief and you wish you could do it but you can’t because you‘re not an octopus. And yes I am drunk but that doesn’t stop me from being right.
The Marshmallow Staircase - Planet Express
(Summersteps Records Handmade SUM-HM 002)
Pounding drums, crashing cymbals, noise guitar, metronomic bass. The Marshmallow Staircase come on strong as Confusion is Sex era Sonic Youth meets the jammier end of Krautrock. Personally I found some of the tracks a little samey and a bit more variation in the songwriting (or the editing) wouldn't have gone amiss but Planet Express has a low and heavy motorik vibe that spirals out from the slightly murky production to reveal a band who pretty soon are going to hit the motherlode of all grooves. Definitely worth a listen.
Andrea Marutti / Tommaso Cosco - Turra
The 4th AFE release I've heard this month is this teeny seedee from label owner Marutti and collaborator Cosco. It's the shortest and also probably the least satisfying. It's certainly not a bad track. As a piece of dark drone it does all the right things, makes all the right moves and heads off in the right direction, unfortunately though it doesn't really go anywhere. The music seems (the press sheet gives little away) to be a processed (by both) set of impromptu recordings (by Cosco). As far as I can make out these original recordings are barely present as the music is an amorphous grey wash. Like I said though it's competently done and if you like your music slow, dark and impenetrable then you may well enjoy this but it didn't grab me and there are far more recommended releases on AFE for you to invest in.
Andrea Marruti & Fausto Balbo - Detrimental Dialogue
From the liner notes this is apparently the first collaboration between long time friends who really should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for leaving it so long and should be promising to do this again very soon. Why am I laying this guilt on them? Because this is bloody wonderful that's why!
Magical, transformative and downright spacey synth works melding sci-fi tonalities with cyborg melodies that encase ones sensibilities in an electrostatic prism of transcendental sonorities. From it's opening cosmic (or should that be kosmiche) beginnings 'Detrimental Dialogue' expands continuously always with an eye on the distant horizon before finally erupting into an apocalyptic finale of punishing brutality and enervating intensity that leaves me utterly breathless every time.
Utterly marvellous. I truly hope they do this again soon.
Masonic Youth & Fever Spoor - Finis Terrae
(Anima Mal Nata AMNCD047)
Masonic Youth, - weeeeee - as you can probably tell by the - weeeeeeee - name, don't take life too - weeeeeeee - seriously and god - opera bit - bless them for it! This wonderfully constructed - bonnnggg - dada fantasy had me grinning like a loon from start to finish.
As with the other Anima Mal Nata release that I've heard (Machinefabriek & Fever Spoor - Deviaties), Fever Spoor, otherwise known as AMN label boss Marcel Herms, sets himself the unenviable task of being the second act on a split cd. Again he doesn't disappoint. It's very much along the same sort of lines as that other album but as they are consecutive releases that's to be expected and not necessarily a bad thing. The textures are just as deep and the colours are just as vibrant but here (to my abundant joy) it is the ambience that has been given prominance and the set on the whole is much warmer sounding. The space is more open and the pacing is more sedate allowing the music to breathe and to expand until it fills the room. Heartily recommended.
Master Musicians of Bukkake - Totem Three
I've only recently been turned on to these guys and dear god but I'm impressed. Eastern musical mysticism re-imagined alongside droning, soaring electric guitars and synths may not be the most ground breaking of premises but they just do it so bloody well.
Hallucinogenic mantras, space-rock jams and Jon Carpenter-esque portentous synthesized soundscapes make for a journey of unparalleled scope. Managing to be simutaeously atonal and melodic, joyful and cataclysmic, melancholic and life affirming these Seattle based troubadours have completed their triptych of Totem albums with a synthesis of the highlights of their repertoire.
Jeremie Mathes - Arset
(Mystery Sea MS66)
Lots of new names to Wonderful Wooden Reasons this issue and amongst them we find this French musician. Mathes has for his debut Mystery Sea release amalgamated a variety of (unspecified) electronic devices, a variety of conventional (bass, horn) and percussive (cymbals) instruments with a variety of seashore ephemera (shells, sand). He has turned this unorthodox conglomeration into a deep, dark undulating morass of sound full of prismatic flashes and flutters.
It's a nice album. A little too polite maybe as it readily surrenders itself to the background but still a very fine listen that I've returned to often over the last month.
Susan Matthews - Hope-Bound
(Sirenwire Recordings sw74)
Susan Matthew is a composer residing in South Wales who produces music filled with complex clouds of melody, harmony and ambience. Her rolling instrumentation and swirling vocals produce a psychedelic and esoteric folk music that occupies the perceptual hinterland between free-music and composition. There is an exoticism at the core of Matthews compositions that is infused with the aromas of unfamiliar herbs and spices. There is a familiarity, shades of Irish, English and Arabian music, present that is always slightly, and ever so tantalisingly, out of reach. Matthews introduces us to a world of dream, illusion, transience and flux. A world that is more often read than heard. A world that I will be revisiting often.
Susan Matthews - The Silent Architect
(Siren Wire SW75)
Using the most fragile and lucid instrumentation and composition Susan guides us on journeys across the loneliest of landscapes. Her musicianship transporting us on a most melancholic distraction from reality. Beautiful.
Susan Matthews - In Search of the Shadow Walker
(Sonic Oyster Records SOR39)
Let me start off with an admittance that I wasn't (and indeed am still not) overly taken with the opening track here. The birds are too high in the mix and the music too overtly reminiscent of Current 93 at their most bucolic for me to fall into. It's not bad by any stretch it just isn't for me. The rest of the album on the other hand is fantastic.
This is the first time I've heard Susan follow an entirely instrumental path and (with all due respect to her singing) it's something I'd certainly like to hear more of. She has a fully developed and thoroughly engrossing composition style that, aside from occasional brushes with the familiar (track 4 - Broken - would be perfectly at home on the soundtrack to Amelie), is an absolute delight. She weaves heavy, weighty, almost gothic, tapestries around delicate melodies and a prismatic exoticism.
A beautiful album.
Susan Matthews - The Whispering Void
(Sirenwire Recordings SW90)
Susan lives just down the road from me. We've never met. If we did I'd thank her for all the fantastic music she's passed my way. Thank her for avoiding the clichés and the boring fucking mediocrities that seem all prevailing in life these days. Thank her for making music that never fails to invigorate me and realise that in this cultural backwater there are true artists making music that speaks from and to the heart, soul AND mind.
I love Susan's music. Buy it, try it, love it.
Susan Matthews - Raw Sonata
(Sirenwire Recordings SW101)
This is the first of several albums I was handed by Susan when we finally met up the other day. I'm so pleased she did. My god but it's good!
From it's tumbling beginning to the tension inherent in its ending this album is like being submerged in liquid golden sunlight. For the most part it's instrumental with Susan playing all parts. It's predominantly piano (as you'd expect) but in there also are processed vocals, both as a half-heard narrative on the opening two tracks and also particularly effective providing the backing drone on 'When the Heart Disappears', electronic drones and guitar (I think).
The compositions are achingly sparse and possessed of a bittersweet poignancy that reflects the open wound expressed in the title.
It's beautiful in every way you want music to be beautiful, it's honest in every way you want music to be honest and it's wonderful in every way you want music to be wonderful.
Susan Matthews - L'Empriente de nos Regards
This (best part of an) hour long CD offers a very varied journey through the many sides of Susan's music. The gently psychedelic troubadour, the post-industrial dronescaper, the expansive experimentalist and more, all appear and present themselves to us in 22 tracks each weighing in at 2 minutes 22 seconds long.
It's a fine if slightly schizophrenic release that refuses to settle into any sort of pattern or rut (depending on your viewpoint). Personally I think it's restless creativity is something wonderful and shows Susan in full unrestricted flow.
Mattin, Gen 26, Batur Sonmez - Untitled
3" noise CDR from this new Slovenian label. These little CDRs are, for me, the perfect format for noise music as it's a genre that, while liking it very much, is one that struggles to hold my attention for long periods of time. A band gets very little time within which to impress or depress on a 3" disc. Appearing on a split or compilation 3" CDR means one gets even less time. not much more than an old 7" single. Of these 3 participants it is only Batur Sonmez that is truly up to the challenge throwing a great variety of sounds into the (cement) mix(er) and creating a fast moving and restless construction. The other two provide compositions that are just a little too static for my tastes.
Ennio Mazzon - In An Undertone At A Loose End
(Ripples Recordings RPL001)
Debut release from Ripples Recordings is a mini set of hissing noise and drones from Italian musician Mazzon. There are some nice flourishes throughout the ep and Mazzon has conjured some nicely hard edged drones upon which he builds his music. However with an average runtime of 2 minutes the 9 tracks that have been squashed onto this 3 inch CDR do have a tendency to sound a little like sketches rather than fully formed pieces. I think what's there is interesting and I'd be interested to hear more but like a battery hen the music needs more room to breathe and stretch in order achieve it's full potential.
mb, hue, fhievel - Erimos
(Digitalis Recordings digi048)
The Maurizio Bianchi (mb) comeback trail continues unabated with this collaboration with Matteo Uggeri (Hue) and Luca Bergero (Fhievel) on Digitalis Recordings. The trio utilise a battery of electronic sounds to create a surprisingly warm and immersive mud bath of sound. I use 'mud bath' selectively - not to conjure ideas of 'murkiness' be it of sound or conception but as a way of conveying the stickiness and thickness of many of the sound-sources and the resultant album. The music on Erimos surrounds, flows and carries the listener in it's embrace. It is a mesmerising composition that steps outside the confines of it's soundsources through the craftsmanship of those involved who have built a beautiful piece of work that has not strayed far from my seedee player in the month that I've owned it.
MB & ICS – Vir-Uz
(Farmacia 901 cat no. 9010660
There’s no information on the who of this album but the MB is almost certainly Maurizio Bianchi. Bianchi is a long time purveyor of post-industrial noisescapes of the highest order. Here in conjunction with the enigmatic ICS he continues that streak of quality compositions with a set which has at its heart a more delicate and melodic sensibility than I was expecting to hear. There are still more than enough grinding gravelly textural sub-drones to keep even the most hardcore devotee of bleak music happy. But, added to this are a plethora of more, dare I say, delicate tonalities that give the pieces a sense of light and space that his other pieces sometimes lack. The darkest time may be just before the dawn but those subsequent hints of light fill the world with glimpses of enigmatic shapes and colours that are far more interesting.
James McDougall - Dispossession of Periphery
(Mystery Sea MS57)
A welcome return to WWR for Australian McDougall whose previous appearance had been under his Entia Non pseudonym. On that occasion he was laying down a tortuously labyrinthine set of processed field recordings. It was as punishingly intense and unforgiving a listen as music can get without degenerating into tedious noise flailing. This new release on Mystery Sea continues the themes and strategies laid out in it's forerunner but is a more satisfying mix of tension, distracting ambiences and immersive sound-wrangling.
Being essentially concrete in nature this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea but if the slightly more gravely textures are your bag then this will be right up your street.
James McDougall & Hiroki Sasajima – Injya
The last time we saw Sasajima he was hiding bird’s nests with Takahisa Itirao in the Tagakushi region of Japan. Now he’s exploring limestone caves in the Akigawa Valley. In this he is matched by the excursions of Australian James ‘Entia Non’ McDougal to the D’Aguilar Mountain range in Queensland. For this project both participants made recordings which were then passed across the sea and reconfigured by the other.
It’s an OK listen. There’s nothing here to dislike, it’s a workmanlike assemblage that displays an array of textures but equally it doesn’t do anything particularly interesting. It’s occasionally loud, more often quiet. Sometime exuberant more often introspective and every so often it breaks from the template of these sort of reprocessed field recordings but nowhere near often enough for my ears.
I think I need to hear more ‘musician’ and less ‘editor’ in these recordings. I want to hear them reflect or even locate the music of the locales rather than just the sounds. It’s an interesting excursion into a highly textural dark soundworld but one that, for me at least, needed a torch to be shone into it to pick out some more details.
Christopher McFall - This Heat Holds Snow
(Mystery Sea MS48)
American soundscaper McFall here presents a bleak and foreboding soundworld full of trepidation and disquiet. I'm uncertain as to the methodology behind what I'm hearing but what I am certain of is that much of the sound on display here is derived from processed field recordings made in and around his home base of Kansas City. Is the music he creates from these a representation of the place or of his feelings with regard to it? If so then it must be a hell hole of biblical proportions as there is not even the slightest hint of light or relief in the music he's composed. The five constituent tracks of isolationist noise-drone, rumble and grind establishing a sandpaper-sharp foundation that are accompanied by an almost insectile, skittering of sounds that one can almost feel or by organic belches of hazy noise that surge queasily from the speakers.
This is probably the darkest sounding album I've heard from the Mystery Sea stable and as ever it's an absolute corker.
Christopher McFall - An Eris 23
The last time we heard from Christopher McFall he was reproducing what seemed to be the sound of entropic decay on the Mystery Sea label. This time out we are treated to a variety of warped and uneasy melodic introspections. Piano features very strongly here sketching out beautifully woozy melodies over a morphing backdrop of tactile textures.
As the disc progresses harder ambiences grow and spread bringing with them a darker and more claustrophobic feel to the proceedings that feels like an organic and logical evolution. McFall isn't content to leave us stranded in the darkness however and at the album's close we return to the melancholia and the album comes to a simple and stately ease.
Beautiful and heartily recommended.
Mecha/Orga - 53:30
(Very Quiet Records 001)
And so here comes the debate topic of the week. If I wanted to listen to the sounds of the world outside the window between midnight and 9am would I not be better off turning off my stereo and opening said window? OK, I'm in Wales not Greece and so some of the birds will be different but not the card and if that is the case does this album, and others of it's ilk, become essentially irrelevant?
Truthfully, I have no answer to either of those questions but they scratch at me whenever I get sent recordings of this type and please don't get me wrong, I like listening to phonographies. I couldn't base my listening habits around them simply because I like deliberate music; keys pressed, knobs twiddled, strings plucked. I'm not avers to letting someone else's outdoors wash over me for a while but there is a part of me (a small but shouty part) that can't help thinking that, for the most part, it's all a bit of a con job. Stick a mic out of the window and hey presto you're a phonographer / sound artist / experimental musician (delete as applicable).
This is a nice album, don't let my idle musings get in the way although it is maybe missing sense of place, an identity, which is one of the things that sparked my original questions. Also it is recorded very quietly indeed (and yes I'm well aware of the label name) and as such you end up cranking the volume control all the way up which can be a shock when the next album starts.
Meerkat - Kapnos
(AFE Records AFE121CD)
(Grey Sparkle GS CD 02)
I’m slightly confused as to the ‘what’ of this CD. The ‘who’ is plainly marked - I’m not going to list them here as there're 10 of the blighters - and consist of several who have passed through Wonderful Wooden Reasons before alongside several who haven’t. Where my confusion lies is that the insert gives details on each individual track and all are duo pieces with the exception of one trio. So, it’s not a ‘group’ as such so I’m going to think of them as a ‘collective’.
The more I listen the more apt this word becomes as there is a real feeling of communality here. No one track or pairing stands out above the rest. There is no unnecessary showboating or ‘Look at me!’ declarations. Which equally, dependant on mood, could be construed as lack of ambition and a surrender to uniformity but today I don’t feel that. Each piece flows so seamlessly into the next that it is almost impossible to track the changes.
For the most part ‘Kapnos’ consists of slow burn ambient drone pieces given extra depth through the addition of field recordings (lots of recordings of fire). There are a couple of tracks made entirely from played sounds which serve to add further scope to the album. The end result is a very earthy form of darkly psychedelic ambience that whilst being maybe a little homogeneous is certainly a rewarding listen.
Merzouga - 52°46’ North 13°29’ East – Music for Wax-Cylinders
(Gruenrekorder Gruen 124)
There are two predominant forms of field recording releases I get sent here at Wonderful Wooden Reasons. The first is of the collector variety; a compendium of noises often on a particular theme (usually location) meant to represent, reproduce or chronicle. The second is the field recording as instrument, or perhaps more correctly sound source, to be manipulated and processed often until it's unrecognisable and a thick soupy grey murk.
Of the two it is the former that I hold in higher regard (which is not to discount the latter entirely) but there is a third and much rarer form that comes my way on occasion that is by far for me the preferred. Here the field recording becomes a clear and equal partner in the work, neither hidden nor dominant, and this is what we have here.
At the heart of this album are a number of wax cylinder recordings created in the early 20th century by globetrotting Germans and kept in the archives of the Berlin Phonogram Archive. These phonograms have been digitised and made available to artists to explore and utilise.
Merzouga are the duo of Eva Popplein (electronics)and Janko Hanushevsky (electric bass) and here they have seamlessly interwoven a selection of beautifully worn, warm, crisp and crackly recordings of song and speech into their music. The voices guide the piece with the Hanushevsky's bass giving the proceedings a real melancholy perfectly at home with the aged beauty of the recordings whilst also occasionally pushing itself to the fore and fluttering against your perceptions like one of the more broken of the elder recordings. Popplein's electronics insinuate themselves in between the sounds adding subtle textures and colours with the realisation that its presence is all the stronger for it's restraint.
This is a glorious recording. It's a communion with voices past, an exploration of the ethnographers curiosity and, most of all, a celebration of the vitality of sound.
I like my noise albums short, fast and brutal. Around the 20 minute mark is good for me after that I'm elsewhere. So at over 40 minutes Messiah Complex had me flagging at around 25 minutes. The solution, turn it off, play something else, come back to the second half later. Hey Presto! Two shit hot, perfect length, short, fast and brutal noise albums instead of one (slightly too) long, fast and brutal noise album. Woohoo!
Ian Middleton - Aural Spaces Versions
Wrapped in a lovely Andrew Chalk cover is my first experience of the music of Scottish musician Ian Middleton and a joyful experience it is too. Aural Spaces Version offers longer and more spacious interpretations of music he had previously presented on a 2009 LP called, funnily enough, Aural Spaces.
Middleton's soundworld is a psychotropic journey of Cluster tonalities and third eye excursions. His music is tightly controlled, soaring, electronic drones with built in g-force. I absolutely adore this sort of cosmic drone. That feeling you get when you snap back to reality utterly bemused by where you've been and what has happened to you since you pressed play and sat back is something I actively search for. When you have no conception of whether seconds, minutes, days, months, years or complete epochs have passed while you were flying along amidst the music, this is nirvana for me.
There are a few people out there who do / did this sort of stuff well - Coil's 'Time Machines' and Brian Lavelle's 'How to Build a Time Machine' (there's a titular theme here) to name just two - but we can can safely add Mr Middleton to the list as this is sublime.
Eric de Jesus & Minus Pilots - We Won't Be Here Forever
CDR + chapbook
Fabulous sound and word collaboration here from two strangers to my eyes and ears.
I'm sure it won't surprise you that of the two names up there in the title it's Minus Pilots who are the musical half of the partnership making a softly psychedelic cascade of delay drenched bass guitar. There's not greatest amount of tonal variety between the tracks on offer here as Minus Pilots seem to have a very particular sound / vibe / whatever that they / he / she / it is very keen on maintaining throughout the recording. It's a good vibe to keep though and it's one that belies it's source material.
The words are OK. It's not really to my tastes (I like pulp novels) so I'm going to avoid talking about it too much but de Jesus has a personable voice on the page and the story he tells is nicely matched to the sounds.
Minus Pilots - Hitting up the Heavens
(Eat, Sleep, Repeat ESR201202)
The last time we heard Minus Pilots they were accompanied by a chapbook. This time they're all on their own and it's all about the music.
That's no bad thing by the way as it was the music that shone through last time. MP produce gently, trippy vignettes using delay drenched bass guitar. This does unfortunately mean that there’s not a great deal of tonal variation between tracks which does leave things feeling a little one-dimensional.
The music is both lo-fi and low-key with a hazy oneirism that wraps you like a blanket although with an average length of around 3 minutes some of the 13 tracks here feel maybe a little sketchy and I'd love to hear them stretch themselves across a long track.
This is a deliciously late night album though that would indeed be a very nice accompaniment to the stargazing they recommend in the liner notes.
Mister Vapor - In The Velvet Ether
I must admit to being slightly confused here. Behind the Mister Vapor name is Thomas Park known to regular readers of WWR by the name Mystified, one of the most prolific musicians I've encountered over the time I've been writing this here zine. There is no info on the sleeve to indicate the thought process behind the name change so I'm going to assume that the reason is to clearly differentiate between two separate strands of his music. With this in mind I approached ITVE expecting to hear Thomas striking out in some bold new direction and...well...to be honest...he doesn't.
Please don't get me wrong here, this is a good album. In all probability a very good album. I think Thomas produces some mighty fine music and this here is no different but that's my point. It's no different. It's a bit quieter than some of his later Mystified recordings. More ambient and less beat driven but it is exploring landscapes that he regularly maps in his other guise just a little slower.
Now, bear in mind at this point that most of the above springs from my confusion over the name. If somnambulant drone and tone is your bag (as it is one of mine) then this is well worth tracking down. If Mystified is your bag then this is well worth tracking down. And, if seemingly pointless name changes are your bag then this is well worth tracking down.
Mister Vapor - Light & Vapor
(Black Drone BDRL003)
Thomas 'Mystified' Parks returns once more under his new identity as Mister Vapor, a name which really does make him sound like a 1960's Marvel Comics supervillain. Under whichever name though Parks is always a safe bet for quality dark(ish) ambient music and this is no exception. There seems to be a vague watery motif running through this album but if this is the case little of note is made of it and it's used simply as a recurring sound source. Parks is on mellow form here and the album does little to overly exert itself, content instead to wind it's gentle way through a variety of meandering turns. It's a good listen with some really nice moments but it's lacking in any real verve. With the later Mystified recordings he seemed to be actively honing his sound and searching for new avenues to investigate but as Mister Vapor he seems more content to rest on his laurels and as such I think this is one for completists only.
Mites - Something to Ponder upon for a Restless Soul like You
(Mystery Sea MS71)
This is a brand new name to me. Mites is the nom-de-plume of Israeli musician Grisha Shakhnes whose analogue compositions embrace the vagaries of tape and field recordings.
I have a real, but elusive, fondness for music of this character. It’s a very ambient form of industrial music. Often it’s difficult to differentiate the underlying grind of the music from the ambient hiss often present on field recordings. It presents an austere face to the world. One that lays modern societies mechanical heart bare to the eyes (and ears) of the world. Personally I can only deal with this level of bleak in small doses before I’m sent reeling back to something with a more cosmic or bucolic nature – yes I am a bit of an old hippy. But, when I’m in the mood and when it’s done well I can become utterly besotted with the desolation, the ennui and the isolation. Interestingly it’s got nothing to do with mood either. I’m sat here on a Sunday evening at the end of November with a cup of Earl Grey tea and a slice of my partner’s birthday cake in a relaxed and happy mood whilst around me the world is drowned in a morass of the most obdurate tonalities.
I like this. I’m not sure my partner thinks it the best choice of music for her birthday weekend but personally I’m rather enjoying myself.
Mixturizer - mxtrzr
(R.O.N.F. Records RNF-040)
My only previous exposure to the music of Manuel Marrero Cubas' Mixturizer project was as part of a split release also on his R.O.N.F. label on which I described him as issuing forth a 'cretaceous fuzzy roar'. Well upon hearing a full length I stand by my words. Obviously there's more to it than just that but as a baseline description it holds quite a lot of water.
Noise is Manuel's passion. Harsh digital noise at that. This is anything but music for the faint of ears. The screaming, screeching, careening shards of grit that avalanche from each track are great fun. His noises are some of the sharpest edged that I've heard in a long time, in places piercing even. This is a wonderful change from the standard po-faced, guttural belch of much noise music as it seems to have the biggest, cheesiest shit-eating grin on it's face as it throws itself at you and slam dances on your eardrums.
Regular readers will now by now that with each passing month I'm becoming less and less interested in full-on noise assaults and most of the pieces that hit my player do so only the once. Now and again though I get one that reinstates my belief in noise as a vibrant genre. This is one of those times.
Moljebka Pvlse & Seventeen Migs Of Spring - Ravha & Electricity Gardens
(Topheth Prophet TP015)
7 tracks, the first by Moljebka Pvlse, the second by both bands and the remaining five by Seventeen Migs Of Spring.
MP, from Sweden, meld elliptical, processed drones with an array of field recordings into a bewildering whole. Their 27 minute track has the feel of a journey to it. Small train journeys interspersed with brief conversations and hazy distractions. Track two's collaboration showcases the tightly controlled musicianship of SMoS given an extra (Nth) dimension by MP's judiciously used recordings.
The remainder of the album is taken over by Israeli group Seventeen Migs Of Spring who are a far more (but by no means stereotypically so) musical prospect. Over their five tracks they show the diversity of their oeuvre by weaving tapestries of drone, noise and rhythm. There is a playfulness to their music that is hard to deny as it softens the more wilful and oblique strategies they like to employ.
It's rare for a split release to work as well as this. usually one band stands head and shoulders above the other, whether that be through personal taste or through musical quality is often a moot point. Here however we have two acts perfectly suited to each other. My one complaint would have to be that i think it's a shame that there was only the one brief moment of collaboration as for me that is the absolute highpoint of what is, undoubtedly, a very fine album indeed.
Moljebka Pvlse - Aningan
(Mystery Sea MS54)
Adrift on the Mystery Sea is always a wonderful place to be and when it's in the company of a musician as masterful in his conception and execution as Moljebka Pvlse's Matthias Josefson it makes the experience all the better.
Aningan is a substantial undertaking both on the part of the musician and the listener. At 71 minutes it is a significant investment of time which Josefson fills with a constant flow of permutations of his soft focus drone. In keeping with the overall concept of the MS label there is a distinctly aquatic feel to the sounds used a perception bolstered by the recurring motif of readily apparent tidal recordings. Whether or not these form the basis of the more amorphous and processed sounds that make up the majority of the recording is for better ears than mine to decide but their reappearance throughout the recording provides a necessary re-establishing of the music's sense of purpose.
It is a quite beautiful recording assembled with real panache and a sense of purpose but I have to say I never really found myself utterly submerged in it. Whether that is my currently restless state of mind or something missing from the composition (or both) I cannot say. It does however create a sumptuous aural backdrop upon which one can work and if you're a follower of either MP or MS then this is almost certainly one for you.
Moljebka Pvlse - Sadalachbia
(Isoramara Records I0101)
Moljebka Pvlse is primarily the work of Matthias Josefson who here is joined by Lena Bergendahl and Karin Jacobson who add their piano & harmonium and amplified objects to his field recordings & drones.
For the most part on Sadalachbia it is the drone that is king. Hugh hovering time-stop drones embroidered with scattered patterns and textures. If this had remained the case for the entirety of the album I'd have left happy but then the 30 minutes of majesty that is the third track, 'Maneschijn', kicks in. A rolling, slowly evolving piano melody underpinned by the most glorious and insistent cosmic drone that has had me wrapped in ecstasy each time I've played it.
This is one of the best drone albums I've heard in quite some time.
Money I$ God - M.A.R.K.Z
(Heart & Crossbone HCB-027)
This month it’s been my distinct pleasure to have my senses assaulted by a frankly ridiculous amount of astonishingly good Japanese music (see my review of Test Tone Anthology Vols 1, 2 & 3 for proof) and here, courtesy of Israeli label HCB is some more. Money I$ God (isn’t it just) are a thumpingly good industrial-metal / post-grindcore outfit with a set of eclectic, rasping and distorted grind and skronk that has my alcohol addled body flailing around the room in absolute rapture.
Alex Monk - ep
Guitar and laptop explorer Alex Monk's first ep sees him embracing muscular drones and gentle soundscapes. Opener, Exchanging Chairs, is a huge great hairy mountain man of a track that howls and powers along for 10 minutes before giving way to the more relaxed ambience of the rest of the album. Monk shows a deft hand at creating and holding a vibe and maintains an easy, rolling flow throughout.
Monos - Landscapes
Not necessarily new but still available if you shop around. The Monos duo of Colin Potter and Darren Tate are here joined by Paul Bradley (of the Twenty Hertz label) and Robin Barnes (of Isolde) to create two very long, slowly-shifting, all-consuming drone and guitar pieces. No corners are left un-explored as the sounds rippling out from the speakers fill the room like slowly rising floodwaters...warm, dark red, friendly floodwaters with disembodied fingers that stroke and caress and tickle. Listening to this album is the aural equivalent of bathing in custard...warm, dark-red, friendly custard. You'll love it.
Monos - Promotion
(Twenty Hertz TH020)
Whilst recently being a duo (with Colin Potter) and a trio (with Paul Bradley) Monos in it's earliest incarnation was a solo vehicle for Darren Tate. Promotion is a reissue of the first Monos album and is a dramatic diversion from the more recognisable drone-based sound of the majority of Monos recordings. Darren has always had a love affair with field recordings, often made in the most mundane of circumstances (one of the tracks on his Ghost Guitars (I think) album features a recording of him making a cup of tea), and here this love affair is in full flow. A lonesome siren loops mournfully throughout but any overt musicality is virtually swamped by the clusters of sound dropping from the speakers. For the most part the origins of these sounds are indistinct or inconceivable yet they all feel perfectly suited to the recording and are used to conjure a grittiness that isn't often apparent in Tate's work but is very welcome here.
Monos - Above The Sky
(Integrated Circuit Records ICR 71)
CD (plus ltd ed bonus CDR)
Originally a solo vehicle for Darren Tate, subsequently a duo with the addition of Nurse With Wounds Colin Potter and latterly a trio with Paul Bradley, Monos has long been a source of beautiful drone music. It's been too long by far since their last release and so it's great to see them back in the saddle again.
The basis for this sumptuous release was the sole (so far) Monos live performance in March 2006. The single piece performance was captured on tape and is later modified through the addition of new material and also recreated utterly to produce the two tracks that make up the main CD. The bonus disc (only available in an edition of 135 copies) features a rawer, earlier guitar and synth piece that is very much the antecedent of the live show (and also my favourite track here). The second bonus track is a newly minted studio piece created exclusively for this disc.
The music is sublime and almost too gentle to hold onto. It's less dense than many Monos recordings with more of an organic feel (especially on track one with it's bird recordings). There is more air and light than I was expecting and it's all the better for it. The intensity of sound has been not replaced with but has been joined (enhanced) by space and room to roam. This recording lives at that strange place where drone meets ambient. You could live in these sounds as they are neither oppressive or invasive but equally it's never meditative or passive. The sheer quality of execution demanding your attention without ever being demonstrative in doing so. Exquisite music. Everyone should own a copy.
Monos - Age & Transformation / Aged & Transformed
(Infraction Records INFX044)
I've had this album here for a good long time but it had got itself misfiled and I spotted it earlier today whilst shifting stuff around.
This is a two part reissue of a classic album from the Monos (Darren Tate & Colin Potter) archives. 'Age & Transformation' has had 2 earlier limited edition CDR releases on Darren's Fungal label but here Infraction give it the full treatment as they wrap it's clanging, disconcerting ambiences in a beautifully designed heavy gatefold sleeve.
The gatefold part is particularly appropriate as it houses not only the original album but a second disc of re-workings of the originals by Colin.
The original album is a long (2 tracks, 27 minutes and 33 minutes) trip through the type of garden shed psychedelia that Darren has returned to over the last couple of years. It's music constructed from sonic scree reformulated and recontextualised in an alchemical reaction that gives form to debris.
The remix disc is a far more meandering affair with darkly vaporous tendrils of sound flowing and wafting in a non-existent breeze.
They are two sides of the same Monos coin and both aspects will be familiar to fans of the pair both in their solo work and as a duo. To have both sides presented here in one immaculately realised package is a real joy and should be sort out immediately (and then not misfiled).
Monos - Everyday Soundtracks
A reissue of Darren Tate's Monos album from 2001 in a very limited run of only 75 copies.
Over the last few years Darren has been pursuing a very singular vision for his music. His very domestic sort of field recordings have become a document of his immediate environment albeit a document where many things are recorded simultaneously. His is a soundworld where the bucolic ambience of passsing wildlife is interwoven with the sounds of washing machines, car engines and bodily functions. All are valid and all are present along with much, much more.
Fascinating and uncompromising experimentation from one of the more unsung progenitors of this lovely scene of ours.
Montauk In February - Broken City Heart
(Spank Me More Records SMM003)
Developed out of a series of 30 video pieces the 18 minutes of music that make up this release from Dutch musician Pierre de Muelenaere is a heady, hissing, post-industrial stew. The majority of the constituent sounds are field recordings sourced from the construction site at which the films were shot but he occasionally decorates these cold and often harsh sounds with gentle flurries of vibraphone or piano. The brevity of the runtime reduces the impact of the music considerably and some of the pieces are lacking a little depth of vision but it's a diverting enough listen with some interesting flourishes that bode well for the future.
Thurston Moore - Trees Outside The Academy
(Ecstatic Peace E#91)
Thurston Moore ploughing much the same field as he did on Psychic Hearts just this time it's acoustic, there's a violin and some noise breaks. Mascis turns up occasionally and he's easy to spot. It's not going to set the world on fire but it's a diverting enough listen with a couple of standout tracks.
Mopey Mumble Mouse - I Am Happy Being Nothing
OK, hands up who's thinking C86 twee indie pop. One look at that there band name and I admit I was. The cartoon cover art didn't help either. It isn't though. It really, really isn't.
What we have here is a rather nifty little seedee of quirky post-hardcore wonderfulness. Upbeat twisted tuneage overlaid with some scathing, sarcastic vocals. Both in terms of style and, more importantly, quality this fab seedee would have been utterly at home in the release schedule of Alternative Tentacles circa 1990 as, at different points, it brings Jello Biafra, Alice Donut & The Crucifucks pleasantly, and not at all detrimentally, to mind.
Personally, I really dig this album and if any of those reference points strike a chord then you will too - guaranteed.
Moth Electret - Tocasen
(Diophantine Discs n=19)
You know I really should be writing these reviews at a PC so I can look up some background info on some of these cats but that isn’t an option at the moment so opinions only I’m afraid.
The wonderfully named Moth Electret (I have no clue what it means I just like the way it sounds) is an individual / group (delete as applicable) with a fondness for crackling electrified musical constructions. The 7 tracks that make up ‘Tocasen’ are a jittery and glitchy conglomeration of tones, drones, hisses, clicks, buzzes and blasts. There are masses of rhythms in his / her / their (delete as applicable) music but no rhythm. The music is gloriously intense and complicated but has been assembled with a lightness of touch that’s an absolute joy to behold with melodies constantly threatening to break through the stuttering but fortunately never quite managing it and remaining just out of reach.
This is one of the best things I’ve heard from the Diophantine label and that’s really saying something so if the harder edge of electric experimentation is your bag then please realise that I’m heartily recommending them / him / her / it (delete as applicable).
Phil Mouldycliff - Written On Water
To me (and I suspect many others) the name Phil Mouldycliff is known through his collaborations with Colin Potter (my only previous exposure is their collaboration on the Twenty Hertz Drone Series #3) and with Keith Rowe. Mouldycliff uses a battery of sounds, textures and structures. On the whole it's an engrossing listen revealing a composer unafraid to play with his constructions but is let down greatly by the quality of many of the generated sounds. For me the 'midi-ness' of this predominantly synthesizer driven album is massively off-putting, 'A Speculative Atlas (For David Mitchell) in particular suffers from this. There is much to recommend this album for, and for much of the recording it is absorbing and transformative ('Spirit of Place' is stunning), but unfortunately these recommendations are tempered with some quite major reservations.
Richard Moult - Suite for Hippolyte
(Evening of Light EOL01)
English composer Moult has (at least according to the press release) an impressive pedigree having worked most notably with David Tibet but I must cry ignorance of his previous work. Suite for Hippolyte is a nice little set of short piano pieces recorded live in an East Sussex church. Each of the 7 pieces contained within are pretty short (the longest an epic 4 minutes and 3 seconds) but all feel fully realised and complete.
There’s nothing here that’s going to set your heart racing and it stays very much in the confines that you’d imagine now that you know he’s worked with Tibet. It is however very nicely played and, whilst being a little brief, a very pleasant way to pass some time.
Mountain Witch - Scythe & Dead Horse
When I opened the parcel from Droehnhaus this album was at the bottom of the pile. My most immediate impression was that the name sounded like a stoner rock band and the solid black album art backed this assumption up but as the other three bands were people I was already familiar with (N, Seconds in Formaldehyde & Andreas Brandal) and knowing the labels history of releasing quality drone music this one did look slightly out of place but I discounted my first impression. I shouldn't have. Mountain Witch are indeed a stoner outfit (a duo to be precise) who specialise in hard, heavy and sludgy Sabbath-esque metal.
I'm always up for a bit of metal but rarely get sent any (I rarely get sent any guitar music actually which is a shame). MW have created a great set of hard and heavy (mostly) instrumentals featuring just drums and a very fuzzy guitar (although there is some organ and I think some overdubbing going on but I could be mistaken on that last point). Their riffs are tight and the vibe is spot on. It's definitely from the Dopesmoker end of the spectrum but there's still enough Sabbath in there to keep things moving along nicely. I'm half drunk typing this having killed a bottle of ouzo I found in the cupboard. Scythe & Dead Horse is playing nice and loud on repeat and I'm thoroughly enjoying myself although I'm not sure the neighbours are. But let's be honest here everyone loves metal and if they say they don't then they're lying and that's a fact.
Mountain Witch, fuck yeah!
Mountain Witch - EP
I'm in a funny sort of mood tonight and have been listening to lots of hard and heavy tunes - Acrimony's blistering cover of O Baby for the most part - and as my deck is finally back in the land of the living I thought I'd skip the colourful LPs on the pile and go straight for the black and white sleeve with the crosses and the grumpy looking hairy chick on the cover.
Mountain Witch is a German stoner band - two Rene's and a Sebastian - with a nicely fuzzed up instrumental take on the world. The EP is 5 tracks long, one of witch (sorry) - 'Intro' - feels more than a little self-indulgent on a short little EP with its portentous keyboards, bells, spooky footsteps and disembodied voices. The flip side of this is 'Outro' which does a similar sort of thing but with a more vibrant, open and looping manner.
The rest of the EP consists of the aforementioned fuzz-tacular stoner workouts but truthfully fun though it is it just isn't as satisfying as their album that I reviewed a few years back but then I'm not as drunk as I was then which I think misses the point of this sorta stuff.
Mudboy - Hungry Ghosts - These Songs Are Doors
(Digitalis Recordings ACE005)
When I was younger I used to have recurring dreams of three different places - none of them real. The most common was a mountain road. Sometimes I'd drive this road for hours stopping occasionally to do the things that you do in dreams. Sometimes the road would lead me to the second place, a labyrinthine indoor marketplace filled with the most wonderful shops and people. The third place though was the one I visited least often, a fairground. Well maintained, clean, bright and utterly deserted. There was never a soul to be seen or heard but this never bothered me. I like fairgrounds but not for playing in. I like exploring them and photographing them but I rarely ride on anything. They are to me wonderfully transient places where fear and fun merge, where kitsch collides with mundane and the surreal dances with the hyper-real. Which brings me to Mudboy. 'Hungry Ghosts' is the sound (note I didn't say soundtrack) of my dream fairground. The album is a metamorphic, psychedelic soundclash of the fearful, the fun, the kitsch, the mundane, the surreal, the hyper-real and as many other adjectives as one can possibly use especially positive ones. Heartily recommended.
Sascha Muhr - wandering:trapped
A few months back I was the fortunate recipient of two rather fabulous albums (by Homework and by Terje Paulsen) from new label Q-Tone. Now they've followed these with a further pair of releases by Hiroki Sasajima and this one from Muhr.
This 9 track set of guitar improvisations is an interesting prospect that, for me, suffers from a lack of dimensions. I've never been a massive fan of single instrument music, I need more layers and levels to my sounds than these types of recordings generally provide. Here the emphasis is on slow and expressive playing without un-necessary showboating or descents into cliché. Muhr's recording certainly is one of the better I've heard and the latter half of the album is very good indeed. The earlier, more fiery tracks are for me the less interesting as it feels too worked and a little contrived.. Like I said though, it's worth persevering as it does get very much better.
Musk Ox - Musk Ox
Musk Ox is the alter-ego of Canadian guitarist Nathanael Larochette. He produces an almost medieval form of instrumental folk music that defies easy categorising. On the accompanying press-sheet Nathanael provides a short reference list of artists none of whom (although I'm not familiar with all of them) I can hear here. What I can hear though is reminiscent of Michael Cashmore of Current 93, particularly his solo album 'The Snow Abides'. Sparse guitar melodies sketching wistful, lonely vistas. Musk Ox though never fully gives itself fully over to melancholia and always somehow retains a sense of the clouds breaking through an overcast sky. The occasional singing is less successful but fortunately that is fairly scant as it only serves to ground Nathanael's playing which is a real shame. With musicianship and composition of this calibre Nathanael should definitely be in no rush to abandon the instrumental route.
Mute Lakes - mute lakes
(curve records 001)
Mute Lakes like Coil. Mute Lakes like Coil a lot. Me too. Unfortunately for Mute Lakes Coil were very good at being Coil which makes the first 2 tracks on this 5 track cd all the harder to sit through. It's not that they're bad songs as such, full of portentious chords and droning vocals, its just that they're not Coil. On track 3 however (and tracks 4 & 5) we finally get to hear what Mute Lakes sound like and fortunately they sound really good. Long drawn out ambient pieces performed with a deft touch for both setting a mood and then tearing it apart again. It's still like Coil but it's stopped trying to be Coil.
Mystified vs Ghoul Detail - Split
(Roil Noise RNOCDR064)
It's taken me an insanely long time to get around to listening to this album as it arrived amidst a flood of other Ghoul Detail releases which I made myself ration out over the course of several months (and there're more still to come). Here we find the Northampton based sound abuser paired off against Saint Louis droner Mystified (or Thomas Park to his mum).
Jon (Bayliss - Ghoul Detail) as regular readers of WWR will know is a perennial fave around these parts. His massive, muscular, heavily tattooed, biker, bounty hunter, chain-smoking, beer swilling, night club doorman type noise drone extravaganzas are a joy to behold and as new releases arrive faster than relatives at a lottery winners house he's always welcome on my stereo. This is no exception as he layers slabs of fuzz and grind onto a bedrock of broken bottles, blood and teeth. Excellent stuff.
It's not often that one of the poor unfortunates twinned with Mr. Bayliss on one of these split releases can really keep up with the musical turmoil he unleashes but Mystified manage it with some aplomb. Parks' noise is much less earthy than Bayliss' growl as his buzzing grind soars and swoops and shakes and shudders like a light aircraft in a hurricane. Maybe a little too treble heavy for me to be utterly taken but that was easily rectified by sliding the graphic equaliser up. Recommended.
Mystified - Mellow Utility
Mystified had previously come to my attention via his split release with Ghoul Detail this is my first experience of him on a full length release. Mystified deals predominantly in full on grinding noise attack. His sound palette is taken from the noisier end of the spectrum but he melds and folds and overlaps and attacks these sounds with a very restrained hand. Sometimes during the course of 'Mellow Utility' he may be accused of being a little too restrained in his creations as some of the sheer, uncontained and over-exuberant joie-de-vivre that is often present in the best noise compositions is missing but in it's place is a set of tightly constructed, concise noise pieces that are both diverting and an interesting 'snapshot' into what one suspects is truthfully a single part of a work in progress.
Mystified + Rabbit Girls
(Roil Noise RNOCDR063)
This split release on American noise label Roil Noise brings together two artists who have appeared in WWR before. Although when I say together I mean 'as part of the same release' not in the collaborative sense or in the sharing a disc sense for that matter as each is on his own separate teeny weeny CD. Mystified who on previous releases had felt a little too well-mannered - a noise artist you could take home to meet (as opposed to 'eat') your mother - kicks things off by being the disc I pulled out first and delivers 4 tracks of churning, sullen noise. In turn utilising grinding noise, processed voices and tones, scraping and blooping beats and finally adulterated field-recordings and buzzing effects. It's a strong set with an interesting array of ideas presented in a very limited (and limiting) time-frame, although I did find the choice of text on the second track to be a little cliched.
Rabbit Girls are a much noisier prospect. Their 4 tracks are considerably louder and more aggressive. Sounds are thrown about seemingly with abandon, spinning and spiralling before slotting into their appointed place in the grand scheme of the EP. It's not all as balls-out as the early tracks would have you believe as there are moments of relief scattered amongst the turmoil that can only add to the unfolding drama.
What is particularly nice about this album is that at no point do you feel the need to contrast the two featured acts. They complement each other very well by being different to each other whilst at the same time being equally as good.
Mystified - D-program
(Industrial Culture ICR012)
Mystified has become a staple feature of the WWR playlist over recent months and with each release I like his sounds more and more. His take on the whole noise genre can seem a little too well mannered but equally his is a sound that is always moving - always in flux and in flow. As such it's always worth a listen. D-program is a set of stately fuzz-laden drone-works that put me in mind of the recent solo release by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (of Tarantel), 'Shining Skull Breath', it shares that albums love of grime riddled, fast moving drones but Mystified has added a healthy, and welcome, dose of round tonal drones that serve to add variety and extra textures to the whole. D-program is probably the most interesting thing I've heard from Mystified and is definitely worth checking out.
Mystified / Opium Farmer - Untitled
(Roil Noise RNOCDR093)
Split release featuring two regulars here at Wonderful Wooden Reasons. Mystified's contribution is a long 30 minute hissing drone piece. Of late he has been moving further and further in this direction creating some really nice music. This one however is a little too static for my tastes and I found it difficult to connect with.
Opium Farmer is more commonly known in these pages as Ghoul Detail in which guise he produces massive noise constructs. The Opium Farmer persona however gives him the opportunity to work in a much freer environment as samples are hurled forth at breakneck speed. There's a lot of humour inherent in this work mostly derived from the abuse of voice samples although also present is the characteristic tightly controlled noise work of the Ghoul Detail project. I think personally I'd have liked to hear a greater degree of autonomy between the two projects. On the whole it's a very entertaining listen but I do however find that plunderphonics ages really quickly for me as the rigidity of the construction fixes it at a specific point. It's fine for a few listens but then I find I've shelved the album. The good point of this however is that at the speed that Jon (Opium Ghoul Farmer Detail) works there'll be three more albums out by the time I've finished listening to this one.
Definitely worth a listen.
Mystified - A Tribute to Forbidden Planet
(Roil Noise RNOCDR089)
Mystified has been an almost constant presence in this zine over the last year. His work is always worth a listen but here he has truly come into his own. This 23 track homage to the sci fi classic opens up his music nicely and lifts it above and beyond the slightly clinical feel that occasionally crops up on his albums. Using an all electronic template Mystified has kept very much in the spirit of the original Louis & Bebe Barron score and has produced an album that I have been returning to frequently.
Mystified Vs. N.Strahl.N
(Roil Noise RNOCDR094)
Over the last couple of years I've reviewed a skip full of releases on the US noise label Roil Noise. They seem to have a distinct fondness for the powerhouse end of the noise field, lots of testosterone and scowling. Now, I'm all for a bit of chest beating machismo but really only in small doses as it does tend to become quite monotonous quite quickly. Luckily there is another side to the label that seems to be coming to the fore where they are releasing artists with a looser and (or) more relaxed attitude to the soundworlds they inhabit.
Mario Löhr (N.Strahl.N) and Thomas Park (Mystified) are two great examples of this. Both artists deliver a series of dense, abstracted, post-industrial noisescapes. Neither artist is afraid to let their sound sources do the work for them giving the music a nice airy feel as opposed to the bleak dystopianism of much music from this field. Löhr, on this release at least, is the more obtuse of the two sending his sounds skipping through a junkyard of metallic constructions to coalesce into a beautifully quiet noise. Parks takes a more meandering path that explores drones, shimmering noise and a rhythmic industrialism (often all in the same track) that I hadn't heard him do before. Both are essentially travelling the same path but each is doing it in very much their own way.
It's not often that these split seedees work as well as this but this one is a doozy that is undoubtedly worth tracking down.
Mystified / Swamps Up Nostrils - Monstro
It's been a few months since Mystified last graced these pages with his presence. This was a conscious decision on my part as his releases (along with several others) were becoming a regular feature on WWR. I'm glad I did it because coming back a couple of months later with fresh ears has helped me once again appreciate how good he's getting at all this quiet noise palaver. The abundance of voice samples on his contributions may preclude Monstro from being a regular feature on my seedee player as I find they struggle to retain my attention for long which is purely a personal taste thing - I just prefer instrumentals. So tuning them out and focussing in on the music reveals on Mystified's first track a lush, glacially slow rumble upon which he's constructed the voice sample narrative that drives the piece. His other contribution continues this idea but with a slightly more dynamic and mobile instrumental base.
Swamps Up Nostrils whilst having the worst name I've stumbled across lately create some fine lo-fi ambient noise. Very much in keeping with the mood established by Mystified on the opening half of the record SUN have constructed two fine examples of earthy, tectonic crackle. Both tracks are well worth a listen but they are probably too minimalist for their own good and end up feeling a little one dimensional.
Interesting contributions from both artists but not, I think, the best work of either artist.
Mystified - Pulse Ringer Pieces
Mystified is by far the most prolific musician whose work I regularly receive for review in Wonder Wooden Reasons (even more so than Ghoul Detail). Prolific to the point that at any one given time I probably have three or more of his albums sitting in the pile next to my desk waiting to be listened to. So, firstly, my apologies to those labels who have sent releases by him that have yet to feature - I'll get to them soon - and secondly, so is this one - the first of his I've heard on LP - any good? Well, yes actually it's very good. Mystified releases always feel part of a larger project (not unsurprisingly given what I mentioned above) and this one is no exception. Here, as with the best of his releases, he isn't content to operate within any genre confines although he does have an affinity with the darker sides of music. The darkest of ambiences sit alongside muscular drones and the occasional almost danceable beats that in turn are bathed in hiss, noise and primary coloured flashes of sound. This is definitely one of the best Mystified releases I've heard and considering that they are always, at the very least, worth a listen then please realise that I am praising this highly. Also the fact that it's on vinyl is always to be applauded.
Mystified - SubDialogue
As a massively prolific musician there's always seems to be a new album lurking in the shadows from Thomas Parks' Mystified project and, as you'd imagine from so large an output, they are of differing quality. Let me be straight here, he's never less than listenable but occasionally it does feel as though he's not trying too hard. This one, I'm afraid, is a case in point. There's nothing here that I haven't heard him do before and do better. One of the things that made his 'Pulse Ringer Pieces' album on Droehnhaus so good was that he took the core elements of his sound (harsh noise, digital drone and industrial beats) and he forcefully evolved them into something new, something different. Here we simply have a return to those core elements which are, as I stated earlier, eminently listenable but ultimately a little unsatisfying. One for Mystified completists only I'm afraid.
Mystified - Tape Sludge
(Suggestion Records, Verato Project sug062)
According to the Verato website ‘Tape Sludge’ was “Created almost solely from sounds recorded to tape 18 years ago, then run through many generative processes”. I’m not certain whether these are sounds recorded by Thomas (Parks) or by other people and they are just ones he had lying around the house. Either way there’s some really rather fabulous music on here. Consisting of loops, noise, drones, tones and a myriad other tactics ‘Tape Sludge’ is a swirly kaleidoscope of silvery sound and is every bit as good as that sounds.
Mystified - Science Fiction
(R.O.N.F. Records RNF-025)
One of the things I like most about Mystified’s music is you simply don’t know which version you’re going to get next. I’ve heard quite a few of his albums now and it must be said not necessarily in the desired order so I have a slightly warped view of where he’s heading. Where he came from I’m well aware of - heavy, noisy, dark drone - and a fair amount of that remains in his music. It’s the building block upon which he now works. His current music reflects an amalgam of the old ways with a new found appreciation for beats. Not rhythm...beats.
This album has been floating around for a little while now and marks the turning point between the old and the new. The music here sees him exploring both his love of dark whilst also he has speckled some of the recording with the aforementioned beats. It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Some tracks (the insectile title track is fabulous) work better than others but this little corner of the musical universe we call home is meant to be experimental and not all experiments are instantly successful. They need to be refined and worked on and that’s just what he’s doing and more power to him.
Mystified & Seetyca - Suns
It's been a while since Mystified appeared in these pages. At one point he was releasing so much music that for a while he featured in pretty much every issue. It got to the point where I deliberately shelved some of his releases because, well truthfully, because I was getting bored of them. It's several years on now and it's fun to hear him again although it must be said, sonically, not much has changed in the interim.
He and his collaborator (about whom I know nothing) have produced a set of sepia droneworks that slowly morph like a plasticine man in a microwave.
It's an immersive but not dynamic listen with enough motion to keep one listening with interested ears for the duration.