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coverpic coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 248 - 11/14/16

Examination of The Eye of a Horse
Conrad Sound

MoE is an experimental noise-rock three-piece from Oslo fronted by Guro Skumsnes Moe on bass and vocals, plus guitar player Håvard Skaset and drummer Joakim Heibø Johansen (who replaced first drummer Sveinar Hoff a couple of years ago). MoE formed some eight years ago, and they have released a handful of albums (and a few singles) already, such as It Pictures (2011), Oslo Janus (2013) which was the first of a three part cycle, and MoE 3 (2014). Except for the 3 album, which was put out by the Fysisk Format label, they launch all their recordings through their own Conrad Sound label.

Both Guro S. Moe and Skaset have been performing as members of several other band projects such as Bay/Oslo Mirror Trio, Sekstett, Art Directors and Sult. They're highly creative and productive artists with parallel solo careers on the side. Well, in fact MoE was Moe's solo project which has turned more into a band project - am I right? Moe and Skaset have collaborated with a line of national and international artists/musicians over the years such as Fred Frith, Ikue Mori, Maja Ratkje, Okkyung Lee, Kjetil Møster, Lasse Marhaug, Hild Sofie Tafjord, Jacob Felix Heule plus others. Examination of The Eye of a Horse is the sound of wild horses. Three wild horses maybe. There's even a track here called "Wild Horses". MoE likes the wild, noisy slopes of rock leaning into the improvisation music scene. There's a quote on their Conrad Sound site saying 'MoE don't care about genres,' which is an interesting and exciting thing. MoE have probably picked some inspiration from the legendary Texas noise/punk band Scratch Acid, who later 'turned into' Jesus Lizard, as they have released a 7" single named after Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard front man David Yow. You can also mention early Sonic Youth and Swans when trying to describe the sound and energy of MoE.

MoE drift and cross borders with their songs, as they float and swirl with a certain punch and metal-HC-punk-rock spirit on top. Examination of... holds six tracks, kicking off with the seven-minute long "Realm of Refuge". We are thrown into a raw and rough ride from the very start, as MoE serves brutal and physical, yet also melodic rock songs. "Saccades and Fixations" follows, and we're taken deeper into MoE's nightmarish, but not freaky-scary landscapes. "Paris" is a quickstep, sped-up, metallic rock piece of more conventional length. Quite a cool one, this one. Imagine Throwing Muses merged with Napalm Death. Anyway, "Wild Horses" is still my favourite track here. It's a stomping, swirling song making you (me at least) seeing some wild horses spinning around us in slow motion. Fast and slow, fast and slow. It also makes me think of a somehow related Norwegian band, Årabrot.

"Doll's Eyes" is another quite cool track with hints of 70s space rock added to the staccato alternative noise rock path they cruise. The album closes with the epic, mastodon track "Letters of Pliny". This is probably about Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79; he was in fact killed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius!), who was 'a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher' (Wikipedia). Pliny wrote 'an encyclopedic work, Naturalis Historia (Natural History), which became a model for all other encyclopedias.' So, we're speaking encyclopaedic rock here. Nothing less. MoE's music and sound holds anger and temperature. They present energetic and noisy rock, but they also have this melodic side, which adds something very important to their soundscapes. Examination of The Eye of a Horse is one cool album. It is not flawless, but it kicks indeed hard at high volume. You'd better go see MoE perform live as well, as they're said to be a good live act. Maybe Guro Moe is bringing her gigantic, special built Octobass...

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