Monday, April 19, 2010

Review for Moon Wiring Club

Moon Wiring Club- „An Audience of Art Deco Eyes“

Lauri Peterson

19 April 2010

The debut album of the ambient artist Moon Wiring Club is an interesting case in the genre of background music. Run by the talented Ian Hodgson, who also creates visual art beside music. He designs all of his records, the majority of his Moon Wiring Club themed artwork can be seen on his Myspace page. The dark imagery is filled with retro extravaganza, using collages of long forgotten photos and recontextualised sentences. Using words ripped away from books written in the heyday’s of the British Empire, these collages take us into a place which at the same time seems far away and contemporary. „Moon Wiring Club- Old Wine in New Bottles“ states the Myspace page. Victorian age influenced sounds mixed with the electronic cadence of today. He draws illustrations of characters such as crows with ties and hats, mystical demons in army uniforms, Romantistic wanderers. All of this lets us access the aural phenomen of Moon Wiring Club, a trip to the familiar but esoteric world. After the introductionary track to the album stops, begins „Ghost Radio“ with a haunting message from an old variety show: „Long ago in an ancient and beautiful England...“. The record „An Audience of Art Deco Eyes“ is the radio programme of Byronic occultists, seeking to lure you in with promises of the good old days in the United Kingdom. But the Victorian or Edwardian age represented on the record is not a real place or even an authentic flashback of it. No more genuine than the alternate history anime „Steamboy“, a science fiction film about the industrial age. The concept exists only in the mind of Ian Hodgson, who vigorously presents it to the listener. His preferred alias Moon Wiring Club while producing music, refers to an arcane aristocrats club. The clique is searching for ways to control the incomprehensible moon, our eternal companion in the night sky. The darkness is where this music hides, haunting and harassing us with somber timbres. Romanticism and the belief in the arcane art sets the tone of the album. A dream of cold and wet England in the 19th century emerges, much thanks to the visual art and out-of-date samples. The track „Mademoiselle Marionette“ uses samples from a child’s music box, again reminding us of the retrospecive value of the record. The music box isn’t used as much on the foreground as in Aphex Twin’s B-side „Nannou“, yet the subliminal value stays. Dissonant loops and samples are common throughout the record, like jazzy and sometimes hiphopish beats, while at the same time eerie synth sounds remain. Many disturbed narrators appear in these ghostly musical pieces, most likely snatched from retro late-night TV shows. These characters seem to talk to us from an unknown distance, their dialogue is short and introductory. Echo effects manipulate their speech and cause a sense of worry. It is meant as if a warning and this is exactly the kind of mystical aura that drives people by tingling their curiosity. Makes them feel as a part of something big and special. Animates the idea of something beyond the world of our cognitive experience. Provokes visions of the paranormal. This is evident in track names such as „The Slip In The Forth Dimension“, „Roger’s Ghost“, „Underground Library“ to name a few. The underground library is an etheral sphere where nightmarish creatures call out to each other. Some sound like children in distress, others are adults lost in the intricate cobweb of the record. It’s a huge musical synthesis project, nothing sounds like it should but at the same time is recognisable for the human ear. Unlike inept artists who fecklessly mix dissimilar genres together, Moon Wiring Club’s project is a success. He masterfully takes an eerily intriguing subject matter and forms a gloomy music package. It’s a faux 19th century experimental electronic record and composed only for the ones who are interested in new experiences.

1 comment:

bv said...

Genre-spotting the record as 'ambient' is provoking enough but 'background music' is the real dynamite here, and it did incite the class discussion that in essence repeated the age-old controversy: is ambient a background or an enveloping space? Which in its turn generates the question of the extent to what there is any 'pure listening' anyway - or is all music destined to be received in connection with other than aural activities? Dancing, driving, doing housework etc are applied to all other kinds of music and even the classics that aspire to be primarily 'listened to' at the expense of cutting out all other activity are in reality just another music to dream, gossip or advertise away to.

Yet, in this case the visuals and the fictional concept are hard to separate from the purely auditory part. The underrepresentation of the latter in the review was taken issue with in the class but at a closer inspection there are a few remarks on the sonic aspect; it is just that it's so tightly interlinked with other elements of the concept, just as the album itself forms a whole where a track-by-track analysis would be missing the point.

The 'sound-as-ghost' idea of David Toop, as represented at the Wire programme, is quite relevant here, as well as the concept of 'sonic fiction'. The statement that "the Victorian or Edwardian age represented on the record is not a real place or even an authentic flashback of it", or that it is not "genuine" is problematised by diverging ideas of what is genuine anyway in music - the true-to-life reproduction of known sounds or the origination of hitherto non-existent ones? But it is apparently one of the crucial problems of music in the 21th century (with which all reviews seem to be aware and concerned of).