Norway - Full Moon 201 - 01/27/13
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 44
Pilemil: If You Make A Lot Of Ceramics; Ceramics Will Make A Lot Of You As Well
(2009 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0044.CD)
When: Homage Series Vol. 1: Sun Ra
(2009 Jester Records TRICK-044)
Welcome to round 44 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
If You Make A Lot Of Ceramics; Ceramics Will Make A Lot Of You As Well is presented in a double fold-out digipack with a poster and insert.
The When release comes in a fold-out digipack.
It is a little unclear to me if Pilemil is to be considered a band name or if this is
a solo album (from Phil Emile?). Anyway, Pilemil is listed as the person behind all
the songwriting on this album with the lenghty title If You Make A Lot Of Ceramics; Ceramics Will Make A Lot Of You As Well,
as well as singing and playing a lot of the instruments. In addition, Dag Ivan Homlong plays the bass, Truls Solerød Johnsen guitar,
Nikolai Høgset and Armageddon drums, and Dag Stiberg joins on saxophone on the opening track.
"Woke Up Inside A Drum" gives the album a rather energetic start with its synthetic new wave/pop mix, with a melody and vocals vaguely
hinting to Talking Heads, and a fine wild instrumental break.
"I'm Glad I'm Sad" is slightly calmer, a grey-happy pop song with its emotions in limbo, neither glad nor sad,
but the vocals are great on this one, making it a highlight .
In fact, there is a feeling of disinterest, emotional greyness or even apathy that goes through the album as a whole,
which of course is as valid an artistic expression as any, but at the same time it feels like the
melodies would like to break out and be happier, or sadder, out of the detached neutral zone.
"Orly Cowboy" for instance, steps into progressive song structures, quirky and asymmetric, almost catchy, but
probably not, while "Overwith Overwith" uses chord progressions belonging in psychedelic pop, but staying
emotionally, as well as lyrically, rather bleak.
"Late Out" is probably the happiest song here,
nicely strolling along in a semi-psychedelic manner , while "No-Pil" ends the album with its snappy and sort
of up-beat new wave pop.
To sum it up: Musically this is not a bad album, a varied collection of whimsical and sligtly eccentric pop songs.
Unfortunately the picture gets a bit cloudy by the lyrics and the delivery of them, making
the overall experience of the album seem blander than it perhaps should be perceived.
I'll have to admit that there are no records of jazz wizzard Sun Ra in my collection.
His name has been dropped by many, including rock artists, for decades so he's been on my
check-out shortlist a long time. I guess his extremely large catalogue of releases has made this seem like an inpenetrable task.
Or perhaps I've just been too lazy. I'm not going to
try to sum up Sun Ra's artistic excursions and various musical periods here, just say that I assume that his best experimental work should
be of interest to anybody into adventurous music. Many album titles bearing his name have
psychedelic sounding titles, but I guess avant-garde or free jazz, or plain wacky would
be a better choices if you want to stick a label to him, though the link to the psychedelic experience is certainly there.
Also worth noting, especially for us Norwegians,
is the fact that the Angels and Demons at Play album of 1960 inspired our great Motorpsycho
to name their 1997 album Angels and Daemons at Play. They have covered "Space Is The Place" live,
and have also supposedly claimed that Sun Ra is their spiritual guide on planet earth.
Well, you'll find plenty of information on Sun Ra out there!
Is the world ready for a Sun Ra cut-up sound collage tribute album?
I'm not sure I am, but When is , so here we go.
This time When means Lars Pedersen and guitarist Nils Arne Øergård (A Full Moon In March and other
constellations, including When's The Lobster Boys).
The album is divided into tracks all having subtitles from a selection of Sun Ra songs. Obviously
I am not familiar with any of the originals, but I guess a fair share of the soundbits are from original Sun Ra recordings, interviews, etc.
which are processed, looped and added to. I guess you could say that this album is a genre-relative to the more experimental side of acid jazz.
I feared more frantic free jazz chaos, but more than occasionally this drifts towards downtempo jazzy
chill electronica , which I like. But in parts,
the micro repetetiveness also grows tiresome, distracting, and life is sucked out of the music.
Like extracting lines from a great poem and repeating them over and over, what do you want to achieve?
Imagine somebody doing the same to say, Hendrix. Would you, even as a fan, enjoy listening
to his guitar solos and vocal bits being looped and mashed up with other bits in this way? I'm not sure I would.
I suspect at least some Sun Ra fans would feel the same way about this album, although aficionados may of course take delight
in recognizing all the samples' origins. For me, not being familiar with Sun Ra's music, I can't say this album made me that much more
curious about it than I already was. What it did do though, was remind me about my intention to check out some of his albums, so
kudos to When for adding another road sign pointing in his direction.
To sum it up: Go check out Sun Ra!
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 2 () - Jester Records 3 ()
Next head-to-head meeting is the Now We've Got Members release Repulsive Force from Metronomicon Audio which is up against
the Nidingr release Wolf-Father from Jester Records.
Copyright © 2013 Knut Tore Breivik