Norway - Full Moon 176 - 01/19/11
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 19
Now We've Got Members: Tiny Disasters On/Off
(2004 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0019.CD)
Single Unit: Family of Forces
(2001 Jester Records TRICK-019)
Welcome to round 19 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
Tiny Disasters On/Off comes in a jewel case with a folded insert with art.
The Single Unit release comes in a jewel case and a folded insert with art and info.
Now We've Got Members arguably produce the most organic music of the various Metronomicon crew constellations,
much due to the fact that their releases can easily be looked upon as band efforts. On this album
(whose full title is Tiny Disasters On/Off; There is no Sound in Space, There is no Wind on the Moon)
drums are played by Henrik Kamphus, Christian Stouff plays the bass, Thomas Meidell produces and plays guitar, while Dag Stiberg plays the saxophone.
Other well known Metronomicons here are: Magnus Moriarty™ (fiddle & choir), Cyrano (organ, synth)
and of course Sissyfus, doing vocals, guitars, piano and production.
"We Rip Scarlet Pages/Right Down From The Sun" starts with a blast, steady bass and a sturdy
rock beat, and what sounds like a decent horn section. When things quickly calm down, the first thing
we notice is that Sissyfus' singing has improved remarkably! It would be flattery to compare him
to Chris Martin, but the overall quality of his voice is now quite enjoyable.
His English still has this funny Norwegian accent, but here it only adds to the overall
unpretentious and playful feeling of the album. This 7 minutes long track is otherwise a magnificient
opener for the album, bursting with creative themes and hummable parts.
"You Feel Dizzy/We Feel Dizzy" has more of the eastern influences we recognize from ealier
Now We've Got Members output, utilizing unison melodic movements from various instruments to great effect,
switching between vivid balkan riffing and calmer, more improvised themes. Another superb track!
After this, "The Secrets Of This City" suitably slows down, moving towards organ-fueled prog rock at first,
before gliding into mellower themes when the vocals arrive. The slide guitar especially attributes to the
lush and blue moments, helping to make this yet another great track.
"Inside/Outside" picks up the speed again, and although not at all a filler, it's a little more forgettable
than the preceding tracks. Now, Metronomicon says: "The production and recording of this album was a tiny
disaster in itself", and I don't know if we should take this literally, but there are some parts
on the album, and this track, where the sound is distorted, seemingly connected to the recording or production.
Perhaps related to the vocals?
"Predictions" cools down with tabla rhythms doing lazy funk while a sitar plays the eastern blues
and Sissyfus adds some suitable vocals. All very nakedly arranged and very, very cool!
Perhaps my favourite Metronomicon track this far!
"Before/After" is yet another example of Now We've Got Members merging pop sensibility with semi-proggy instrumental
themes. Sometimes light, other times they go for it with all instruments at almost full throttle.
Using the full-on approach, the band easily drags you in, but as "Predictions" showed,
they now also master the sparse. The more reflective "The Stairs To..." is another example of this.
Beautiful and calm, before post-rock style distorted guitars comes tumbling down. Another surprise move!
But it's back to another dose of the balkans on the long ending track titled "?/?", using melody lines similar
to other tracks here. At times they sound like a circus orchestra,
and the build-ups and -downs arrives predictably, which can not be said of the rap vocals in the midst of it all.
It kind of drags on and on ... but they haul this one in too, setting a fine end to a fine album.
To sum it up: I'm happy to report that Now We've Got Members continue to grow, this being not only the
best Now We've Got Members album so far, but also the best Metronomicon Audio release yet!
Too bad about the (perceived) distortion, which mars parts of some tracks, but doesn't prevent the album from being overall highly enjoyable.
Are Mokkelbost is a member of improvisational/experimental bands and collaborations Killl (live-only band),
Arm (trio), Juv (solo & duo with Marius von der Fehr) and Dausteg (DJ duo with Tony F. Wilson). Single Unit
is a solo venture into experimental electronica/noise, using electric guitars, synths and various electronic
sound-manipulation tools. Familiy of Forces consists of 16 tracks, most clocking in well below 2 minutes.
Some tracks are more noisy and chaotic ("Sugar Diet Dynamics"), others are
more cheesy-quirky ("Fluktrute", "Orgel Alene"). Some tracks have repeating themes,
while others have a more random structure, but even the noisier ones have some level of tonality to them,
even traces of melancholy. A few tracks are all over the place. "Antlers! Antlers! ANTLERS!" for instance,
starts out intensely, noisy, but calms down halfway, shifting into a more soulful, but digitally blurred theme.
Listening to this album is an entertaining journey, there is great variation both within the tracks, and
from one track to another, and you never know what to expect the next second. In parts it's also a
demanding album, but as for the noisier bits, this is not harsh mayhem noise, but
rather bubbling synthetic or guitar-like skewed metallic ("Passion Pirates And Parasites").
There is also an eerieness to some tracks that makes a reference to the darker,
more experimental side of When (another Jester artist ) seem appropriate ("P, P & P Intro").
Another highlight is "Memory Edit", where we hear traces of 80's King Crimson in the
clean and crispy guitar, but quirkier and more far out. All in all, an album
bursting with creativity from beginning to end, seemingly chaotic, but well organized.
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 5 () - Jester Records 3 ()
Next head-to-head meeting is the compilation release 2.0 from Metronomicon Audio which is up against ... well,
nothing from Jester Records, as they have no release for catalogue number 20 yet (reasons unknown, but if Jester
decides to fill this one in later, we will include it.)
Copyright © 2011 Knut Tore Breivik