Friday, February 5, 2010

Mood Organ - Visiting a Burning Museum [Debacle]/Physical Demon - Pulse Maggot [Atonal Microshores]

These are a pair of local CD-rs I've had in the to-do pile for way too long.
Debacle continues to do it's Seattle-only thing which is great cause they dig up artists that I know nothing about. I haven't even seen the Mood Organ name around town (or the internet more accurately) so maybe he doesn't play live much. Or maybe I'm totally out of the loop which is very possible. Anyhow, Visiting a Burning Museum, despite its name, is a relaxing disc. It's not lush or new age or any of that; it's just mellow. The first track maneuvers gentle keyboard pulses into a very singular atmosphere. The piece hovers in near-stasis for half its length so when a few more notes appear making up a slowly forming melody it's a startling and dramatic occurrence. From there the piece, again gently, slides back into a similar but slightly ruptured stasis. The second piece immediately feels warmer due to the static-y field recording suspended ghost-like in the background. There's a looped keyboard melody and another tone that be either a counter melody or a stretched recording of a siren peeking out from the background. Around 3:30 any roughness slips away revealing smooth, gleaming drones. It's definitely a high point of the record because the tones are so simply and eloquently aligned with one another. There's a chilly, consonant beauty to the composition, but still with a lingering touch of tension disrupting the euphoric experience. Track no. 3 changes things up considerably, bringing in a pair of warbling acoustic guitars with a light hum of white noise. At 12 minutes its a bit drawn out for its own good though that isn't to say the piece is without compelling moments. The four minute closer kicks off with chimes and thick waves of static (literally coming from field recordings of waves breaking) before introducing a delicate and beautiful piano figure. What's interesting is the piece throws minimalism to wayside but stays completely faithful to the tone of the album. It manages to be the record's expressive climax and mournful coda at the same. That the heavy static shroud isn't dropped until the final 15 seconds or so, making the impact that clarity brings much more profound. It's really a lovely piece.
Physical Demon deals in less placid textures. This album occupies a strange space because they aren't exactly noise or drone but they carry that vibe into a weird electronic concoction. Pulse Maggot is the perfect name for this record cause it's jittery and heavily rhythmic but at the same time it constantly gnaws away at itself. Basically whats going on in the title track, as far as I can tell, is there are a number of synths in flux, slowly fluttering up or down, one or two drum machines or samplers pumping out sharp arrhythmic webs and a fuzzy bass undertow creeping sinisterly in the shadows. The second half of the jam shifts into a head nodding, downtempo beat thing with a bunch of synths suspended mid-melody. One of the strengths of the piece is that Physical Demon really have things under control. There's a looseness to the sounds but the trio is very measured and particular where they place them. I don't know if this is improvised or not, because it sounds like it but it's hard to believe that it is. The second half of the half hour long record is jokingly titled "Mulse Paggot" and its got a meaner spirit. Burbling synths are undermined by deep, unsettling groans of noise. Around 4 minutes in Physical Demon kicks up the tempo and things get dangerously close to a full-on groove while the second half of the track glides on steady synths and distorted pulsations. Physical Demon is definitely doing their own thing with this release which is admirable and worth looking into if you haven't heard them.
Both CD-rs look nice in their own way. Pulse Maggot has a well-done spray & stencil job while the Mood Organ disc looks refreshing professional for a small-press release. Debacle is definitely at the top of its visual game right now. Both discs are in print and available.

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