Norway - Full Moon 170 - 07/26/10
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 13
Magnus Moriarty™: ...And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks
(2003 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0013.CDR)
Origami Galaktika: Stjernevandring / Eesti Lilled Silmad Süda 2xCD
(2001 Jester Records TRICK-013)
Welcome to round 13 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
...And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks is presented in the typical Metronomicon fashion - a CD-R packed in a flexible plastic
sleeve with a cardboard folder and folded insert containing art & information.
The Origami Galaktika release comes in a jewel case and includes a booklet with art and info.
We were introduced to Magnus Moriarty™ on the Drive Fast Slow Right Left album,
his promising folksy & Beatlesque debut. His new album, ...And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks, is named
after a novel by the William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. The album opens very well,
with a string of fine songs. "Timid Rides Middle East" is a sad and mellow fiddle instrumental with light rumbling and distant
noises in the background, for atmosphere. This bitter-sweet feeling continues with "Dupre lost his job", where Magnus Moriarty™'s
doubletracked voice starts out sounding a little like Gerry Rafferty, but the melody quickly takes more familiar 60's turns.
The same goes for "Hotel Jupiter" which after a while glides off into a gentle river of fuzzy guitars.
"Hello Capt. Marygold" is sharper, the melody locking onto odd twists and turns while the arrangements finds a
suitable level of quirkiness.
"Da Da Da" is somewhat quirky, a short, fast farfisa space interlude with
interesting lyrics and a whistling Roger Whittaker. "Huxley TV" is another bitter-sweet affair, with a fine
use of instrumentation - banjos, glockenspiel and eerie synths, and with ending samples of William S. Burroughs .
"Henry Afford" is also fine, with its arpeggio guitars and skewed
walking bass chorus. "Radio Called Superstar" was also featured on the Metronomicon 1.0 sampler
where it secured a goal - it's close here also ...
The rest of the songs on the album is of the more forgettable kind, like
the more sparsely arranged "'tis The Season to Get Trademarked™" or the rather hectic "Si Senor."
To sum it up: Melodywise Magnus Moriarty™ is prone to repeat himself, making some songs sound
like variations on others, but this is still a fine sophomore effort, offering more slightly whimsical little songs making small psychedelic pop-turns
and confirming his sense of playful arrangements.
Origami Galaktika is part of the unique, interesting and eccentric Origami Republika collective/umbrella gathering various creative people
in the experimental art/music sphere. The Origami Republika website is currently offline, but it will probably surface again, giving valuable
insight. (There's currently a copy of the website available at archive.org.)
With or without it, chances are you're left somewhat puzzled about the concept ... Origami Galaktika specializes in ambient and minimal music, and this release collects their first two releases, the Stjernevandring album from 1996
and the double-LP Eesti Lilled Silmad Süda release from 1998. Both originally released on vinyl in limited quantities, making
this a welcome CD reissue. In fact, our own JP suggested CD as a better media for Stjernevandring when he reviewed it in the very first
issue of Luna Kafé! (Adding that the poster was nice though, so you better go for both ...)
Stjernevandring was recorded on Christmas Eve 1994, by Benny Braaten A07 (each member of the Origami Republika is assigned a number!),
Kjell Øyvind Braaten A34, and Cicilie Risåsen A42 (doing the artwork, I think).
"Stjernevandring" (the title track) opens with the sounds of ocean waves washing, combined with deep droning sounds,
sounding like the deepest strings from a piano reverberating, occasionally bursting into vast echoing rumbling explosions.
This goes on quite a while, creating a dark ambience that may induce images of a post-apocalyptic dead world.
After about 10 minutes of this, bells of various sizes enter, introducing tonality and traces of melody, slow and sparse at first,
adding a zen-like quality, at times with ghostly overtones. After another 10 minutes a glockenspiel arrives, and with it a repeating
sad little melody. Simple, but it effectively opens up a new door. These last melancholy minutes could in fact work as the spacey intro to
a latter-day Pink Floyd/Gilmour blue opus, but instead it ends with this.
"Månedans", the other song from Stjernevandring, has more of this tonality right from the start, as synths create a slowly gliding melancholy carpet.
What sounds like echoing guitar fretting, makes it more difficult to imagine space, and after a while the synths sounds more conventional also,
making this one at times sound just as close to new age as dark ambient. But as JP pointed out in his review,
there are too many disturbing elements to Origami Galaktika's music for new age afficianados to appreciate it. The
construction is a couple of points more intruding than the title track, making it less suitable for meditative listening than the title track.
Anyway, Stjernevandring is an impressing debut, placing Origami Galaktika on the frontiers of dark space.
If Stjernevandring rightly or wrongly could make some critics mention new age as a reference, Eesti Lilled Silmad Süda probably didn't.
It was recorded during spring and early summer 1996, and features these additional members from the Origami Republika community:
Jimmy Bergsten A01, Liina Viires A83, Monica Ruud A87, Daniel Skisland A90 and Henning Eidem A92.
The two tracks from Stjernevandring used rather static deep bass tone(s) to build everything on and around. Subtle and shifting, but mostly present,
creating a rumbling feeling of vastness. They do this also on "Rännak Tähtede Vahel" also, but choosing samples from almost
recognizable orchestral instruments, and using more tonality, makes it sound more like a piece of contemporary experimental orchestral music,
perhaps a little too "arty".
"Tähevalgus" starts out more industrial, the looping machine noise almost sounds like heartbeats. Again, the tonality is present from the start,
as the bass moves slowly. For a while this bass is what "drives" the track, little else happens, until suddenly we hear the voice of a
foreign language (Estonian, perhaps, as the album and song titles presumably are) spoken by a woman, recorded bad radio reception style. At the same time the bass and the machines shift into
something more threatening, more distorted, before eventually fading.
"Punane Kuu" also have these thundering echoing mechanical sounds in the background, which together with what sounds like more traditional
rhythm instruments, creates a rather straight-forward rhythmic base, on which they place the monotonous plucking of a string instrument and
an equally monotonous chanting voice. Rather minimal and repetetive, very spacey, and I guess rather trancey if you're in the right mood. You could
probably envision a Tibetan monk standing on a foggy mountain.
"Vennad Valgusis" builds around an even simpler rhythmic pattern, along with a minor chord from a floating synth and sounds from human
activity of some kind. A child's voice sounds intruding, almost scary. Something sound like a distant church bell. Guess it's not a wedding.
After that, it all develops very slowly, giving the impression that little is happening. When the monotonous drumming finally ends, you're kind of glad it does.
To sum it up: Stjernevandring is a great venture into melancholy flavoured ambient soundscapes, while Eesti Lilled Silmad Süda is less ambient and
more minimalistic. I enjoyed Stjernevandring more as a listening experience, especially the title track, which you could really float away to.
The four tracks on Eesti Lilled Silmad Süda are more repetetive, monotonous and overall less spacey, and hence appear less adventurous. As a package, this
release is well worth checking out, though. And the artwork is wonderful.
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 3 () - Jester Records 4 ()
Next head-to-head meeting is the Cyrano album You Sensualize My Soul from Metronomicon Audio which is up against the
When release The Lobster Boys from Jester Records.
Copyright © 2010 Knut Tore Breivik