quality baked goods part one: moëvöt on sanity muffin

November 25, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Moëvöt – Best Of (C80 tape, Sanity Muffin, s/m #40, edition of 100)

moevot - best of

Long term readers will recall the time when this blog was basically a fan site for the marvellous American tape label Sanity Muffin, as run by that California-based Renaissance man Billy Sprague.  Our transatlantic bromance was the talk of the town before being cooled by some ridiculous increases in overseas postage costs imposed by the US Postal Service.  Long distance relationships are tough, especially for penniless artists like us, and it all went quiet for a while.  Thus you can imagine my delight when contact was rekindled back in the summer and shortly afterwards a parcel arrived at Midwich Mansions containing no less than a bunch of his most recent offerings.  I will be dealing with them in due course, in no particular order, and as my current illness allows.

First up is a compilation culled from the 1990s work of French cult hero Vordb recording as Moëvöt.  Take a look at the cover of this tape and have a guess as to what its contents will sound like.  What if I told you the inlay card also features a pentagram, a goat’s skull and a black and white photo of a shadowy forest?  Obviously, stereotypically Black Metal, right?  Well, not exactly.  This has the gothic, morbid vibe but does not feature the thrash instrumentation you might expect.  Instead we get funereal tempos, bowed strings, organ drones, treated sound effects and gurgled vocals.  These elements are dropped one by one into a bubbling cauldron and the result is a sombre hush that occasionally spills over into howled horror.

Some of this is very effective.  Imagine yourself a fey, 21 year old celebrating your birthday with an architectural tour of New England.  You find yourself in the town square of a small fishing port and, attracted by its antique cut-glass doorknobs, you enter a public building.  This turns out not to be the local library but instead is a temple dedicated to Dagon.  Against your better judgement you investigate and, as you realise what the rust coloured substance drying on the altar might be, you hear the congregation approach.  To avoid being discovered you have to hide under the altar itself.  Moëvöt soundtracks the ensuing ritual.

Some of it, however, not so much.  Allow me to draw a literary allusion.  When reading Edgar Allan Poe nowadays – The Fall of the House of Usher, say – the trials of his velvet-clad, melancholy decadents are more likely to get me sniggering than swooning.  Their woes are so overwrought as to appear camp and invite laughter rather than the sublime, discombobulating eeriness presumably intended.  Such is the case with Moëvöt too.  For example, when I realised that one strangely familiar chord progression was a ringer for the nursery rhyme ‘Three Blind Mice’ I lost my shit and it was hard to keep a straight face from then on.  I am prone to disrespectful silliness and thus perhaps not exactly the target market for music so earnest…

Sadly, and with apologies, this interesting historical document is now sold out – such is the length of time between Billy’s parcel arriving and this review appearing – but watch this space for further accounts of his peerless warez (EDIT: a few copies of this tape can be found for sale via Discogs.).

Sanity Muffin at Big Cartel

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