wired for sound part 12: the return of sanity muffin, part one

July 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Good afternoon comrades, I hope this post finds you fighting fit.  Yes, RFM returns after a pleasant month of unblogging.  During the silence my beautiful wife and I spent a week in the thrillingly magical city of Venice.  We have been having spiritual experiences in front of Renaissance masterpieces in deserted churches then mulling them over whilst eating scallop and mushroom risotto next to a canal.  Literally awe-inspiring. 

Anyway, the break has allowed my glands of musical appreciation to fully recharge.  Handy, as I have plenty of catching up to do.  Seeing as I’m in a chipper mood, let’s kick off with a rave review:

 Perpeteia – Music for Mesmer (Sanity Muffin)

Regular readers will know of my love for Billy Sprague and his tape label Sanity Muffin.  The archives of this blog are aglow with praise for his righteous releases.  All was quiet earlier in the year as Billy focussed on his Galena project and his tour of Europe with fellow travellers Nadja.  However, the label flowered back into life recently with a batch of new greatness, an account of which begins below.

Up first we have a fetching orange cassette wrapped in a lovely, blobbily psychedelic painting by Erin Washington which looks like the end papers of a grimoire, or perhaps a snapshot of the surface of Io.  The cassette contains two side-long tracks which are apparently inspired by and dedicated to Franz Anton Mesmer and his theory of animal magnetism.

Side one features a series of crystalline structures, breaking the surface tension of their warm, watery world, reaching into the heat of the sun, almost touching, almost becoming, then falling back, then trying again.  It is a glorious, shimmering piece – soul-sharpening in its clarity, cosseting in its fuzz.  Not only does this reward repeat listening but it seems to increase in intensity with each spin.  Side two begins in a more serious, dissonant mood, then finds a groove, then finally blows up with a psychedelic expansiveness.  Like a spacecraft emerging from the grey of hyperspace into the billowing multicoloured gas clouds of a nebula.  Suffice to say this comes highly recommended.

An illustrative anecdote:

Last Monday I was on the 7.45am bus into town.  The bus was two-thirds full of near-silent commuters all mourning the passing of the weekend and grimly assessing the pounding rain that we were driving through.  I was listening to this tape and thinking about the wording of this review and, given the sombre atmosphere, was grateful for the reverie that afforded me.

Then something remarkable happened.  A young woman with a little girl, perhaps four years old, got on and sat at the front of the top deck.  The child then proceeded to climb on her seat, and crawl all over her patient mother, in order to make handprints in the condensation that was fogging the windows.  The unselfconscious joy with which she pursued this task illuminated the bus and made everybody smile.  Side one of this tape provided a perfect soundtrack to this life-affirming moment…

OK, you should be rushing to buy here but please note that at Sanity Muffin there is a two tape minimum order for international customers.  This is fair enough, I think, as slinging this stuff across the Atlantic ain’t cheap.  Luckily the back catalogue is all good (see my previous reviews for highlights) and three more new releases will shortly be getting the RFM treatment.

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