Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wounded Galaxies Tap At The Window

As mentioned previously, strange and curious items of mail have been landing on my doorstep and this limited edition release by Cyclobe is no exception. At the end of last month, I reviewed a most curious and extraordinary book of found photographs entitled "Haunted Air" by Ossian Brown. Unbeknown to me at the time of writing, Ossian also composes music in partnership with English musician and author, Stephen Thrower under the guise of Cyclobe. I was completely spellbound by Ossian's photographic oddities and found myself slightly apprehensive opening this particular package, fearing disappointment.

Fortunately, "Wounded Galaxies Tap at the Window" is an unexpected musical delight. The opening track, "How Acla Disappeared from Earth", shimmers in otherworldly unease and mournful loss, acting as a prescient foreshadowing of the musical journey to come. "The Woods Are Alive With The Smell Of His Coming" was originally performed in November 2009 as part of a one day symposium on "Magic, Modernism in British Art" at Tate, St Ives. This striking composition builds with insidious momentum, slowly evolving through a hobbled, mesmeric rhythm, lurching towards a venomous intensity to end in soporific repose. Layers of sound evolve; celestial shards of disembodied chorus beckon, eerie murmurs ripple and cantillate, spiteful creaks and baneful gnarls twist and scamper, while fragments of folk instrumentation weave in and drift out of consciousness. For an all too fleeting moment, this music performs an invocation, bringing the unknown and the unnameable into our collective midst in all its harrowing, compelling and resonant glory. In contrast, the second side of this release appears more restrained, the music starts with a short frenetic folk refrain which dissipates leaving a cold cavernous electronic wasteland. A chilling listlessness takes hold. A slight piano refrain enters, hovering halfway between Giallo underscore and Morton Feldman like minimalism. An androgynous voice starts to intone around a score fluctuating between intense luminosity and uncertain disquiet. This is indeed magical music, with light and dark expertly weaved and balanced. I was apprehensive when I started listening. I still am. This is a wonderful, fearful and magnificent release which I highly recommend.

"Wounded Galaxies Tap at the Window" is out now on Phantomcode. Front cover art by Fred Tomaselli.  

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