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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 241 - 04/22/16

Mellow Subterrain
The Shoe Shine Set EP
Kvadratrot Records

According to the presentation at Discogs: 'Mellow Subterrain creates sound scapes, sound carpets and happy, disturbing visual audio moments. Samples from the world are put together in various ways and may be generated inside a modern computer.' Here's the second offering from this one man band/solo project by Pål Buhl-Mortensen who debuted with the LP Submerged one and a half years ago.

The four track Set includes recordings in the same vein as the Submerged tracks. To some extent. The ethnic touches, analogue instruments and charming experiments from the longplayer are less audible this time around. The EP might be divided into two. Here are two tracks with field recordings of spoken words wrapped in music and rhythms and two instrumentals without any friends from the fields. The two of the latter category are the most melodic and well fit as the soundtrack for a pleasant stroll a spring afternoon with your newly polished shiny walking shoes on. "La Coruna" is short, uplifting and mellow without being sub-terrain, dominated by a nice flute-Mellotron. Almost hummable, or whistle-friendly if you prefer that. "Quebec City" ought to include some field recording or something recognisable from that town. Well, it doesn't as far as I can discern. Maybe the entire recording stems from that town? At least our man lived in Canada for a while not long ago and must have been inspired. Anyways, "Quebec City" is my favourite here. It reminds a bit of what Robert Wyatt might've come up with if he'd toyed away with some keyboards and a rhythm box at home or in an informal studio. A pleasant uplifting instrumental with some jazzy fringes.

"Children Must Remain Under The Supervision Of A Parent" has the title taken from an announcer with an Australian or New Zealander accent, I guess. It starts quiet with a keyboard sound that immediately made me think of Jaga Jazzist. Soon it drifts away with a popping playful keyboard in addition, to a light and warm landscape with the announcer as a side dish. The last track of the EP is the most experimental one; the "Caleidoscope Of Whimsy". Otherwise I find the boxed rhythms of the Shoe Shine Set a bit annoying. I think the recordings would've gained a bit if they had been mixed more in the background or been omitted completely in the mix. On "Caleidoscope..." the rhythms work fine as an effect in itself and to push the recording forwards. The North American spoken words seem to deal with some matter under the surface, probably not subterranean but deep beneath the sea surface. It's hectic down there; the heart throbs pretty quickly.

The Shoe Shine Set as a whole might not be as exciting as Submerged in the long run, but it certainly serves to quench the thirst while awaiting the next full-length album of Mellow Subterrain material. The Set is not available in any physical formats but can be streamed from Spotify, bought digitally from Amazon and probably likewise sources.

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You may also want to check out our Mellow Subterrain article/review: Submerged.

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