Norway - Full Moon 188 - 01/09/12
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 31
Center Of The Universe / Magnus Moriarty™: Did U Order A Radar?
(2006 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0031.CDR)
Origami Galaktika: Horisont
(2004 Jester Records TRICK-031)
Welcome to round 31 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
Did U Order A Radar? is presented in the typical Metronomicon fashion - a CD-R packed in a flexible plastic sleeve with a cardboard folder and paper inserts.
The Origami Galaktika release comes in a CD jewel case with a booklet with art & info.
Remembering the fine Stjernevandring / Eesti Lilled Silmad Süda 2xCD,
I was looking forward to another release by Origami Galaktika. I won't even try penetrating Origami Republika's
organisational system, I'll just mention that Origami Galaktika here seems to be more or less one person. Benny Braaten
(aka B9, aka A07), is the composer and main performer on Horisont, with Kjell Øyvind Braaten (A34) engineering
and co-arranging. The album was originally released in 2001, then accompanied by a 20-page art catalogue with
the paintings of Bård Solhaug, printed in 330 copies. This 2004 release by jester features a selection of
these paintings in the included 12-page booklet, one for each track. Of course, you don't get the same impression
of the paintings from these minimized versions, but nevertheless they are essential in setting the right mood and
framing for the music. This goes for most ambient releases, the visual presentation and accompanying art is
almost an essential part of the complete experience. You might say this is the same for any music, but ambient
music is often about closing your eyes and imagining a scene, landscape or environment, making this a creative
process for the listener too. The paintings of Solhaug are from the northern fjords of Norway, depicting desolate
coastal landscapes in blue colours.
"Strandlandet" is based on three dark and grim sounding deep cello tones that are repeated throughout, with
sounds of wreckage floating in the shoreline added. Like a ship gone down and pieces drifting onto a deserted shore.
"Flukt" ("Escape") replaces the cello with softer sounds, again using a small selection of tones which are repeated over and over,
combined with the sound of slow breathing, somewhat uneventful. The title track ("Horizon") is even more minimal and fluctuates between
two tones of wind chime quality, while sounds of distant thunder is added, like watching a battleship fight
very, very far out on the horizon. Without binoculars disappointingly little information reaches the listener.
"Nesland" has a slightly more industrial, but non-intrusive backdrop of sounds, like the muted sounds of a large machine hall,
with slow bowed string tones reverberating between the walls, and I am almost surprised when a fourth tone is introduced.
"Nattevandring" ("Night Walking") has a repeating deep-pitched bassy bowed string sample, accompanied by the sound of
footsteps in snow or crumbling plastic, the occasional submarine bleep and some echoing industrial noise. At least
this sounds a little sinister, but you need some imagination. "Fantasi" ("Fantasy") is both tonal and harmonious, with a slow
interplay between brass instruments, or samples of such, with a few other subtle sounds floating around. This one is,
as oppposed to the previous, harmonically in a major mode, and has the most uplifting mood of all the tracks.
But in the end it goes dark, and the finishing "Kveld" ("Night") goes back to the scene of "Horisont", adding
what could be described as moaning whale sounds, until it is railroaded away into the night.
To sum it up: Dark and moody ambient that is tonal (minimal) and industrial (light). It is very repetetive and not
much developes inside each track. Perhaps better experienced as an art installation
to accompany the paintings of Solhaug, on its own this is a somewhat boring listening experience.
Both Center Of The Universe and certainly Magnus Moriarty™ have been among the steady goalgetters for Metronomicon Audio,
so when they join forces my expectations rise. Perhaps the retro pop sensibility of Moriarty™ combined with the exotic multi-cultural
influences of C.O.U.? Well, the title of Did U Order A Radar? suggests a revisit to previously recorded material, and the sparse informasion inside the folder
may indicate that this is the case. "Radio Moriarty FM" opens the show with an Irish-sounding folk tune but the old radio receiver soon drops in and
out of various channels with inbetween noises, a slightly used and tried trick. The first proper song, "Embarrassed Controller Of Elevators",
is a remix/rework of "Embarrassed Controller Of Lifts" from Moriarty™'s U R On A Radar 12" EP,
some kind of disco remix that doesn't improve on the original. Two other songs from that album get a similar workover. "We Blame Bergen Belsen"
here comes in a rather annoying "Calypso Edit", while "Sad Surf Nr. 3" (here called "Sad Surf Nr. 0"), a favourite track off
the original LP, is treated to "Kitaro-Styler New Age Meditation", a calm and pleasant version, but rather instrumental and far away from
the original. "Come On Lets €-Trance" was reportedly originally released by Magnus Moriarty™ on Can You Hear The True Fidelity
(listed with catalogue number MICRONO.00001.CD-R, I don't know what label this was, perhaps a predecessor to Metronomicon?).
When Metronomicon release songs with the word "trance" in them, I get very suspicious, because this indicate another
trip to homemade Casio-synthetics, and lo and behold, I was right, and lo-fi trance is even worse than hi-fi trance.
"Don't Loose Yr Dub" and "Hank Da Da Batmobile Blogstyler" are reworks of two tracks from Moriarty™'s Sky-Fi Beatitude
album, originally called "Don't Lose Yr Kru" and "Hank, The Batmobile Joyrider", and neither of them were highlights from that album.
That said, "Don't Loose Yr Dub" is by far the most successful inclusion here, with bubbling synths, nice violins, a gritty saxophone and
echoing bass drums. "Hank Da Da Batmobile Blogstyler" on the other hand, is the opposite, a digest of things I have little
appretiation for, like being inserted into a brain-damaging videogame.
Ending the album is a "Hercòlubus Or Red Planet"-remix of "Santiago 68", a track from Meta Forever's Astroid Antics,
that does litte more than mess up a good thing.
To sum it up: A rather uninteresting and unnecessary collection of reworks, remixes and reimaginations of previously released material from Metronomicon Audio.
With the exception of "Don't Loose Yr Dub", I would recommend skipping this one, unless you are particularly fond of Casio-synths, rapid cheap drum-machines and other blip-bloppy sounds.
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 1 () - Jester Records 1 ()
Next head-to-head meeting is the Koppen CD Let's Eat Crazyroom!! It's Time To Be Cool Like A Boy!! from Metronomicon Audio which is up against
the When release Pearl-Harvest from Jester Records.
Copyright © 2012 Knut Tore Breivik