Norway - Full Moon 166 - 03/30/10
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 9
Magnus Moriarty™: Drive Fast Slow Right Left
(2002 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0009.CDR)
When: WriterCakeBox - The Unblessed World Of When (1983-1998)
(2000 Jester Records TRICK-009)
Welcome to round 9 in the label showdown series between Metronomicon Audio and Jester Records!
Since we've more or less totally missed out on reviewing the output of these two great labels, we are going
through their entire catalogues, matching the releases from each label consecutively against each other.
Humorously counting goals
and giving out yellow
and red cards, soccer style -
but first of all reviewing the music. For more introductory information on this label match, see
Drive Fast Slow Right Left is presented in the typical Metronomicon fashion - a CD-R packed
in a flexible plastic sleeve with a cardboard folder and a small booklet containing art & information.
The When release comes in a jewel case and includes a booklet with art & info.
Drive Fast Slow Right Left opens with "Ol L Endorff 94 Overture", a broken radio transmission of a sad gypsy-style
organ-accompagnied violin tune, but the radio is tuned in by the next track, the short
"Subsylvester Substallone" with jangly percussion and
vocals sung through a tiny tube. The psych-folk ballad of "A Hundred Folk Decent and Dancing" is
more interesting with its sad verses gliding into an upbeat refrain. With more guitars
both this and "Subsylvester Substallone" would fit nicely on a Bevis Frond album.
"Sunday Smoke Song" is also a nice sad folksy tune, with a melody that glides slowly along.
"Hyde Parkinson" introduces a farfisa organ which lands the song on the cheesy side soundwise.
Far more interesting is "Harlekin Hero", with its low-key, yet dramatic, progressive rock. The partly classical
keyboards makes this sounds like a cottage version of Muse!
"Soria Mora Di" are just two classical guitars doodling, while "Terror Gran Canaria" sounds like
a British folk tune, save for the refrain that adds some familiar Necronomicon-balkan twists.
After the short nonsense fiddle interlude of "Oh No - The Hitcher!",
"Drive Fast Slow Right Left" tunes into a radio station playing a mellow 70's symph-prog song,
but the reception (production) quality is very low. The album ends with the rather uninteresting
casio-dub-pop of "Keep Your Hands on the Wheel!".
To sum it up: Several of the songs here dips into the Beatles tradition of songwriting, some are
more on the (British) folk side, while the rest are more experimental in various directions. The latter
makes the album more interesting, but at the same time makes it feel somewhat incoherent. Anyway,
Magnus Moriarty™ clearly is a song-writing talent worth noting, and another high point from Metronomicon so far.
Lars Pedersen has produced a row of releases under the name When, of which at least the first handful
are magnificient bursts of experimental creativity. Using sound collages, samples and cut-ups,
When took us to places of the unknown. At times they were dark, psychotic and sinister places, but always adventurous,
and you never knew what to expect next. When were pioneers and their late 80's/early 90's releases are
classics. This double-CD album cherry picks from all these albums, especially concentrating on
the superb 1998 vinyl only release Death In The Blue Lake and the equally great Black, White & Grey (1991).
I am not that familiar with the Gynt album (1997), appearantly a concept album on Ibsen's Peer Gynt.
From the numerous tracks included here it seems like this is When in good form, stirring up an orchestral maelstroem.
The tracks from Prefab Wreckage (1994) shows another side of When, hints towards chamber psychedelia, but still too dark
and avant-garde (Chris Cutler is involved) to hitch a ride on Pedersens pop-vehicle The Last James.
Karius & Baktus is perhaps the most memorable piece from the whole When catalogue, at least for Norwegians, sliding Ivo Caprino's
childrens' puppet movie ("Karius & Baktus" aka "Caries & Bacterium") into a post-dental apokalypse.
(And we are looking forward to When's upcoming homage album to another Norwegian children's TV classic, Pompel & Pilt, a series
some say caused nightmares enough by itself!)
In addition to this we get material previously only released on label compilations (ReR, dBUT), but also some unreleased material
or alternative versions. Häxan deserves a mention, a cut-up/collage
version of a soundtrack to the Swedish/Danish 1922 movie Häxan (aka Witchcraft Through the Ages),
banned in the US for featuring nudity, torture & sexual perversions. Curiously the witch was played by a 78-year-old flower seller named Maren Pedersen - no relation I guess, but
a funny little coincidence in the When universe!
It would certainly be interesting to watch Häxan with the When soundtrack, but much of When's other music is so cinematic in itself,
that using it as soundtracks to movies would probably intrude on the movie part of the experience.
Also worth mentioning, but perhaps not equally musically interesting is the "Beardsoup in Tangier" tracks, which was
"Planned as the 7th When album, aimed at reconstructing the Moroccan Berber's trancemusic
with samples of Arab instruments, locations and wedding ceremonies. The project was abandoned just before completion, for reasons I do not wish to share."
Well, now we got curious, didn't we? Why tease us and not simply just state "unreleased", like done for other tracks here?
To sum it up:
This is simply a superb presentation of the When universe, both for fans and for the uninitiated.
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 3 () - Jester Records 5 ()
Next head-to-head meeting is the 1.0 compilation release from Metronomicon Audio which is up against the
Star of Ash release Iter.viator from Jester Records.
Copyright © 2010 Knut Tore Breivik