nada es perfecto: joe murray on skull mask, spoils & relics

June 1, 2016 at 11:32 am | Posted in no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
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Skull Mask – Artificio y Fetiche (self-released download)

Skull Mask – Musa (self-released download)

Spoils & Relics – Private Garage Collection (tape, Feral Tapes, 010, edition of 40 or download)

fetichemusa

Skull Mask – Artificio y Fetiche / Musa

If you asked me, and I’m taking your continued reading as a straight affirmative, I would say the guitar is a desert instrument.  Think Jon Collin, Cian Nugent and Loren Mazzacane Connors – they’ve all explored the lonely sound of the desert scorch.

And you can certainly see why.  Those spare six strings can mimic the warped shimmer and the emptiness of a desert landscape in slow simple plucks.  The baking heat lends a laziness and fractured timing to the dusty fretboard.

Miguel Perez, another amazingly important guitarist to the N-AU, packs his atlas and strolls the deserts of this world (and the next) on the sun-damaged Artificio y Fetiche.

The taught and springy acoustic steel-string has a slight reverb warble as Miguel conjures up the skitter of a green lizard’s quick limbs, the poisonous spines of a cactus and the glassy psychedelics found in handfuls of sand.

This is a desert that’s teeming with life, studded with microscopic activity, scuttling and slithering between the bone-dry gullies.

The Flamenco influenced ‘Cortometrajes’ explodes with energy fingers rippling like a buttery dawn.

So clear and precise is Miguel’s vision and playing it takes the majestic ‘Piezas’ to remind me of what I’d forgotten- this is an improvised guitar album – as it shuffles between bliss-out sun worship and knotty string bending.

But it’s the closer, the soon-to-be-classic ‘Sangre,’ that makes you come back again and again for a rusty fix.  The imagined opening credits to a lost Western it rolls like a Django with an extra thumb; it’s acid-blasted and 70’s-day-glo jaunty in equal measure.

At around 15 minutes Artificio y Fetiche is a trip too brief and yet the much longer Musa still leaves me with an empty craving.

The two lengthy tracks on Musa stretch things like perished rubber.  The surface of these recordings is littered with stress-lines and furrows, clicks and bumps that show a real human bent over double, hands blurring with speed.

On the title track notes are spat-out rather than neatly placed.  A disorder and chaos reigns.  But to judge this expression random would be foolish.  Ever so slowly, ever so gently a sense of order is constructed in small sections, each folding into each other.  A Moorish pattern, all azure-blue and cream emerges in egg-shell tones.  As you stand back you pick out familiar patterns and lines.  A map?  But to where?  But before your brain can muster a reply you find your feet shuffling forward, unable to resist.

Somehow Miguel has broadcast ‘Nada es Perfecto’ from a distant Ballardian future.  Course red sands have crept into the cities leaving only the minaret’s thin towers, poking through the desert-creep, looking for all the world like giant abandoned onions.

The wind blows his haunting raga through the arrow slits; a rosewood moan, a restless questing.  A sound so dry that it goes on forever.

garage

Spoils & Relics – Private Garage Collection

Knowing the Spoils & Relics I wasn’t expecting any pebbles or nuggets but, make no mistake, the garage is in full effect.  It’s chock-a-block with tin trays of screws, half-empty paint cans and a broken TV…

o///oo////o////At first it’s a jumble of unusable parts, scraps and ephemera\\\\\\0\0\\0\0\ooooo\o\o\o\\////ooo//o/oBut that of course all melts away when you add the human, the flesh ~~~~~and blood machine that takes the tightly-sealed jar of turpentine, beer towels and an XXXXXXXX old projector and turns that into a compelling narrative_____))()()The ghost >><<<<of memory haunts these dark ruffles and smeared hisses)(((((ooo>>A hum becomes a glass of fizzing alka-seltzer))))))A shifting ‘shish’ is folded into a matrix of voices)><><>Machinery hums and whirrs – a busy crackle industry but incredibly delicate+++Aural flytipping?+++The dynamics are kept XXxxXXX low and introverted, almost shy, with only the occasional brassy honk>>><<<…

The side B is ever-so-slightly busier>>><<>><>> with sounds overlapping and ()()(    (())meshing messily rather than lining up ‘straight like a soldier’o00o)Oo0)Oo This added dimension takes away none of the quiet menace; in fact it OOOO adds layers of subway/\underpass paranoia like a sudden face at the window)()(***()))(((((((((()))ooooiiiiiiiooooOOOOOO>><><><<Snatches of art-core jams involving mahogany and ivory pieces slapped down in unknowable rhythms()(()””””!><><0000)0IT LIVES IT’S OWN LIFE, BREATHS IT’S OWN BREATH    000<<>><><)()())                         )(())0o0o0o))

…This private garage is truly abstract and at times could be a ‘lost’ futurist recording from 1913 with all it’s sepia clanking and rattling. At around 10 mins per side this is a perfect power-listen for the busy radical.  Get busy people.

—ooOoo—

Skull Mask

Spoils & Relics

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