Scotland - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 14 - 12/14/97
I like it when there is more to an album than just the music. Like
stuff for free, which you sometimes get when buying a record.
This one, for instance, comes with a nice, red kite! Yes,
a kite! Bearing the Electroscope logo. As I haven't owned a kite
for many years, I was sold immediately.
Electroscope come from Glasgow, and is the musical collaboration
of Gayle Harrison and John Cavanagh. This is their first album,
I think, besides a cassette-album entitled Where The Oscilloscope
Meets The Eye (released by their own(?) Boa records), which I
haven't heard. This is not music for cheerful parties. Now you've
been warned, but there's no reason to get scared off listening to
Homemade Electroscope. You just have to be concentrated when
hearing this one. Because this is rather introvert and atmospheric
stuff, mostly all-instrumental. But with lyrical parts told, by both
Gayle and John, as spoken word stories. Check out John's dark voice
in the story of tiresome and traumatic travelling by plane on the track
Night Flight To Nowhere
The album opens rather spooky with the track Virtual Vega,
and it seems like the duo has a strong fascination for being, or going
out there. They present other titles like Space Travel 103,
The Trumpet From Outer Space, and Earth Loop. Besides
playing traditional instruments such as guitars and bass, they use the
clarinet and other brass and wind instruments, along with an old pedal
organ and other keys. Giving their sound sort of a baroque feel. Some
have compared their sound and their arrangements to what John Cale and
Nico once created together, or to the stuff Robert Wyatt was up to in
the 70's. I must say I get a feeling that many of the tracks on this
album are being like soundtracks to motion pictures. Such as in
Tunguska, which made me think of the collaboration of composer
Philip Glass and director Godfrey Reggio, and their film
Koyaanisqatsi (1983) (and maybe also Powaqqatsi, of 1988).
Semi-apocalyptic, cold and sarcastic time-lapse stories; a collage of
images and sound. Other recordings that comes to mind are some of the
themes on Stay Awake : Music From Vintage Disney Films, produced
by Hal Wilner, performed by Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, and Ken Nordine
among others. Especially the voice of John and the fairytale-darkness
of some tracks reminds me of the trio mentioned above.
INTERMISSION (just have to check out the kite!
Blasted! It's freezing outside, with a 10-inch layer of snow. And,
of course, no wind!
I guess I'll have to do a report on kite-testing later...)
When going through side 2 of this LP one more time, it occurs
to me that listening to this album in November/December, surrounded
by the Norwegian winter, is a rather appropriate occasion. The
minimalistic mixture of popular and contemporary compositions of
warmth and coldness, fits quite well with the changes of climate
and weather. Sometimes the music of Electroscope is hymn-like,
other times they sound more vague and free floating. Now and then
they also sound like what the obscure American surrealistic
eye-ball-freaks the Resident once did.
Homemade Electroscope is a collection of peculiar
home-recordings, worth listening to when you're in the mood
for travelling slowly without moving.
Copyright © 1997 Håvard Oppøyen