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It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 38
coverpic coverpic Magnus Moriarty™: Perhaps Interior Heart Politeness
  (2008 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0038.CDR)
vs.
Anthony Curtis: Book Of The Key
  (2004 Jester Records TRICK-038)

Welcome to round 38 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 goalsIt's a GOAL! and giving out yellowOooops, a yellow card! and redOooops, a red card! cards, soccer style - but first of all reviewing the music. For more introductory information on this label match, see round 1.

Match preview
Perhaps Interior Heart Politeness is presented in a double fold-out digipack with a folded poster.
coverpic coverpic coverpic

The Anthony Curtis release comes in a CD jewel case with a booklet with art & info.
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The match

Most of Magnus Moriarty™'s previous releases have been enjoyable, establishing him as the melodic pop-wizard of Metronomicon Audio. On Perhaps Interior Heart Politeness, Marius Ergo helps out on vocals and a lot of the instruments (guitar, bouzouki, bass, mandolin, banjo, organs, synths, melodica, harpsichord, glockenspiel, tambourine, etc.) while Moriarty™ himself plays almost all the same instruments in addition to the drums. Ergo has also written one of the songs, the rest are by Moriarty™.

The album starts out with the eerie intro of "For The Anoraks", before jumping right into "Warning From The Skies", a fine melody using multitracked vocals to great effect. "Paramount Hotel" is more of the same, with a jingly-happy summer rhythm. But it's Ergo's song "Wichita Mind Control" that is the first nugget, with its magnificient and bittersweet melancholy chorusIt's a GOAL!. "So Five Lightyears Ago" is in parts darker than the average Moriarty™ song, and flirts slightly with 80's new wave aestheticsIt's a GOAL!, for instance the midway bass parts. "Hence The Icon With A Light On" is quicker and organ-driven while the semi-proggy "Charter To Orion" varies in intensity, but neither will probably stick in the listener's ears for long. The same can be said for "No Tale For A Ferry", and by now the songs start sounding very similar to eachotherOooops, a yellow card!. The shorter and simpler folky melody of "Rally Monte Carlo" works better. After the half minute interlude of "Timid Raids Thessaloniki", "Collectable Starships" flows by, before "Toy Train To Neptune" rounds it all off, and neither produce the finale one could hope for.

To sum it up: There is no doubt that Magnus Moriarty™ knows his way around a good pop song, but again the songs are too alike, and unfortunately that goes for the arrangements too, like cooking the same stew over and over with too many of the same ingredientsOooops, a red card!. It may be tasty and nutritious, but Perhaps Interior Heart Politeness really doesn't take it any further than that, and compared to his previous releases, the album is slightly disappointing. Perhaps hiring an external producer is what it takes to get Moriarty™ to fulfill his potential and make a really marvellous album? It's also saying something that the album's stand out track is the one written and sung by Marius Ergo. It's a gem though!

Book of the Key is somewhat of a surprise addition to the Jester catalogue, being an experimental avant/prog-jazz album that would fit right into the MoonJune Records rooster. Anybody into progrock would know the name of bassist Tony Levin, having played with King Crimson and Yes, and many others. Equally renown is Mike Keneally, guitar and keyboard player extraordinaire, who has served time with Frank Zappa and Steve Vai among others. Having these players in your backing band sure sounds promising. Also in the band are violinist Jeff Gauthier, drummer Lewis Pragasam and Ronan Chris Murphy on harmonium, all new names to me. And who is Anthony Curtis?

The liner notes give nothing away, besides listing Curtis as a guitarist, it features only paragraphs from the writings of ancient philosopher Iamblichus and photos of trees. However, given the assembly of musicians, it comes as no surprise to learn that Curtis is pushing the borders of his instrument. The 12 minutes long opening "Ruin" seems most of all like a warm-up piece, with guitar excursions over a rather straight repeating bass theme, and steady 4/4 rhythms. "Gallabalba" is both friskier and Frippier, and happily too short for its square disharmonies to cause ear tension. "Inland Sea" also moves around rather simple bass themes, creating a base for Curtis to improvise to. Loosely arranged, it shows his ability to let his playing flow in directions perhaps not planned for. The title track is the longest track here, 23 minutes, of which the first 10 are based around a loopy, intense and funky bass theme, with Curtis fuzzy improvising around it and astray, all rather exhaustingOooops, a yellow card!. Midways things mellow out, only to slowly build up towards a funky atonal avant-jazz eruptionIt's a GOAL!. Luckily "Hymn to Helios" slows down the album, but the guitar is still in your face, with gliding distortion. The percussive based "Balinus" gives you no rest, with samba rhythms, deep bass moves and distorted guitar solos. "Saturnalia" sports some quirky riffing, but is equally intense. The acoustic "From Towers to the Dome of Heaven" is an aural oasis, where the gentle violin of Jeff Gauthier feels like a soothing calm flow of clear waterIt's a GOAL!. The third long track, titled "Hikmat al-Ishraq" (a reference to Islamic philosophical works), suggesting an eastern influence, but this is not showing in the music. Instead we get another piece quite similar in form and content to the two other long tracks, but arguably this is the most interesting of them. The ending "Oracle" tries to soothe things out, but it's too late, I need some serious rest.

To sum it up: The formula of short, simple, monotonous and repetetive bass motives that most songs are built around, proves to be a fine vehicle for Curtis' guitar playing, but also quickly grows boring to listen toOooops, a red card!. It feels like the guitar is constantly trying to break free-jazzy from the strictly fusion-grounded bass, like they don't really belong together. The experimental, disharmonious and arrhythmic nature of Curtis' playing makes it hard for the listener to glue this together, The keyboards seem to be building harmonies in a world invisible to the guitar, and Pragasam is no doubt a great drummer, but you'd almost have to be a drummer yourself to notice on this guitar and bass dominated album. An original album, without doubt, but a challenging listen.

Match result: Metronomicon Audio 2 (It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!) - Jester Records 2 (Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!)

THE LABEL TABLE
# Metronomicon Audio (MA) Jester Records (JR) MA JR
01 C.O.U.: Darklow Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Themes From William ... Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 1 4
02 C.O.U.: Sellout EP It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! Esperanza: Esperanza Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! 2 1
03 C.O.U.: Bestboy Electric Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Arcturus: Disguised Masters It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
04 Cyrano & C.O.U.: s/t It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! When: Psychedelic Wunderbaum Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! 2 1
05 Täppas Strepens: Beans, Bacon ... Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Bogus Blimp: Men-Mic It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 2 4
06 Center of the Universe: Curious .. It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! Ulver: Metamorphosis It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 2 1
07 C.O.U.: Taking a Nap With It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Perdition City It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 2 4
08 Täppas Strepens: The Future ... Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Bogus Blimp: cords. wires Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 3
09 Magnus Moriarty™: Drive Fast ... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! When: WriterCakeBox It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 5
10 Various Artists: 1.0 It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! Star of Ash: iter.viator. It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! 3 1
11 Now We've Got Members: Le Jardin It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! Virus: Carheart It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 3
12 C.O.U.: Promotional Copy Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Silences Teaches You ... It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 1
13 Magnus Moriarty™: ...And The Hippos... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! Origami Galaktika: Stjernevandring It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 3 4
14 Cyrano: You Sensualize My Soul Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! When: The Lobster Boys It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 3
15 Koppen: Truckdriving Songs Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! Rotoscope: Great Curves Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
16 Täppas Strepens: Dance, Dance ... It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! Ulver: Silencing the Singing It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 1
17 C.O.U.: Staying Up All Night ... Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card! Kåre João: Captain Trips It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
18 Magnus Moriarty™: U R On A Radar It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Head Control System: Murder Nature It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 2 2
19 Now We've Got Members: Tiny ... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! Single Unit: Family of Forces It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 5 3
20 Various Artists: 2.0 Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! [unreleased] 1 0
21 Koppen: My Fashion Statement ... Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card! Kåre João: Sideman It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 4
22 Täppas Strepens: The Great American ... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! Upland: Upland It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 4 1
23 Magnus Moriarty™: Sky-Fi Beatitude It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! When: Sunshine Superhead It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 1
24 Cyrano: I Cannot Smell It It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card! Ulver: Lyckantropen Theme It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 3 2
25 Hanny: Moderning Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: 1993-2003: 1st Decade ... Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! 1 1
26 C.O.U.: Bellydance Nation It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! Ulver: A Quick Fix Of Melancholy EP Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 2 2
27 Meta Forever: Astroid Antics It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! 1349 Rykkinn: Brown Ring of Fury It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! 4 2
28 Cyranq & Phil Emile: [sic] It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! Kåre João: Sleepers It's a GOAL! 2 1
29 Ergo: Reclaim The Mall! It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Teachings In Silence It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 2 2
30 Various Artists: 3.0 Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card! Ulver: Svidd Neger Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 1 2
31 C.O.U./Magnus Moriarty™: Did U ... Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card! Origami Galaktika: Horisont It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
32 Koppen: Let's Eat Crazyroom ... It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! When: Pearl-Harvest It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 1 3
33 Now We've Got Members: Then Is ... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Blood Inside It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! 6 3
34 Truls & The Trees: AilanthusOooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a red card! Kåre João: 2 It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 3 3
35 Lower Than Lo-Fi: No Need For Ladders Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! Bogus Blimp: RdtrIt's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 3 4
36 C.O.U.: SimulacraIt's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! When: WheneverOooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
37 Hanny: SceneityIt's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! Upland: ObliteratedOooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! 3 1
38 Magnus Moriarty™: Perhaps Interior ...It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! Anthony Curtis: Book Of The KeyOooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! 2 2
Total 89 80

Next match
Next head-to-head meeting is the Ergo album Mountaineering from Metronomicon Audio which is up against the Espen Jørgensen release On The Great Alkali Plains from Jester Records.

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