Recent Reviews: Moodring, Hotel Hotel, Northern Valentine

you can expect plenty of Silber action over the course of the next few missives. a North Carolina based imprint who we must admit we’ve quietly admired from afar these last few years who have been in touch with us twice during these last few days – once via losing today wherein they kindly sent links to their latest / forthcoming releases (if that is I recall rightly) and also via our my space update page whereupon Brian – chief Silber drew our gaze and ever attentive ear in the general direction of Moodring whose debut release ‘scared of Ferret’ he described with persuasive succinctness as ‘awesome’ before qualifying such high regard with a general description that reads thus -
“other words to describe them are a bit harder to come by. The presence of piano & clarinet give a free post-jazz flavour. Mae Starr’s ghostly vocals sound like the lounge music on a sinking ship. The deep groove jams sink in to form some kind of modern American gamelan sound. The music is raw & infectious & immediate & feels more proto-everything than post-anything”.
So with that we were prepped to expect something we could kiss and whole heartedly recommend without fear of rebuke or humiliation, a little rummage through the labels showcasing my space player offered up for our listening delight ‘into the doom’. We selected. We waited for said track to kick into life. We listened in awe. There was the occasional tapping of foot. A more frequent raising of an eyebrow – the right one in case you’re taking notes. And of course an appreciative nod of the head. I think he’s onto something here we thought to ourselves. ‘into the doom’ is as equally likely to appeal to admirers of Fever Ray as it to Transglobal Underground whilst alternatively likewise bridging the finite gaps between of Neu! / Tangerine Dream and Ariel Kalma / Tubby Hayes. It really is a curiously contagious hybrid of styles, primarily underpinned with a definable krautrock groove enhanced by the mesmerising cosmically voyaging electronic loops. Weaved between a seductively sultry snake charming middle Tibetan like voodoo / arabesque mirage like signature atop of which Mae Starr weaves a demurring and uber sexy love spell that at times has her sounding like some secret love child of Grace Jones. Expect further Silber and of course Moodring action in these pages soon.
~ Mark Barton, Losing Today

Born as a side project of two Oregon guys who play under the Rollerball moniker, after growing to a quartet, Moodring has landed on Silber with their newest album titled SCARED OF FERRET. After a couple of listening, the eleven tracks of the album made me recall the atmospheres of old Kraut rock records. You know, stuff like Amon Duul or the first Kraftwerk but in this case Moodring succeeded into mixing the tribal attitude of the tracks with the space trip mood by using also free jazz influences thanks to the use of piano and clarinet. Tracks like “#9″ or “Shaker tab” are a good example of what I’m saying because of their oblique approach to melody and sounds. Keeping high the level of experimentation the band didn’t compose tunes without sense of melody by producing a drugged mishmash, they approached the track list like a long session were there’s an overwhelming feeling of alienation (psychic kind of) produced with the use of rock language where here and there female vocals lead the dance. Nice one…
~ Maurizio Pustianaz, Chain D.L.K.

Monte & Mae are best known for their work with Rollerball, an outfit that has been bouncing around the underground for nearly a decade and a half. Moodring is where Monte & Mae let their freakier jams reside, which is pretty freaking freaky considering the canon of material produced by the mother ship Rollerball. What started out as a side project for the couple has morphed into a full fledged band. In 2007 Jesse Stevens (OvO & Plants fame) joined the fold; he also acted as recording engineer on this album. Michael Braun Hamilton (Nudge/Momeraths) added some more spice to the secret sauce with his spaced out clarinet-ing & bass burbling. Strabage Hands (a.k.a. Shane “Bunny” De Leon a.k.a. Miss Massive Snowflake) designed the beautiful black & white packaging the CD resides in. Shane was in Rollerball for a good chunk of its existence.
“Scared of Ferret” is an appropriate name for this disc. That animal has always given me the willies. There is something spooky, visceral and feral about Moodring’s music. Moodring creates these great claustrophobic grooves that slither and slide between the cracks in the haunted basement of one’s mind. Mae’s vocal range can go from angelic to demonic (in a good way). Jesse’s drumming give form and forward movement to these spectral druid jams. The drumming allows Monte & Mae to go way out there in their “melting the cheese on the radiator” as Brother JT would say, while Jesse makes sure they keep on trucking. Monte Bass burbles & bleats while Michael adds to space drip-page with his sonic sloshing of his clarinet, much like the role that Shane had when he was in Rollerball.
“Pole Cat Intro” features some ghostly mumblings, keyboard blubbering, percussion clattering and spaced-out flute before seamlessly transitioning to “Rintin Fire.” The basketball percussion, washes of static and Mae’s disembodied vocals creep along the ground like a thick fog on some forsaken wasteland. #9 sounds like it could be a Rollerball outtake, with the gypsy accordion & Mae’s gorgeously delayed vocals. The clarinet gives an eerie eastern European feel to the song. “Shaker Tab” features the sound of a toy keyboard dying with a propulsive house beat; the discordant elements somehow meld into a slightly insane driving, maddening, yet pleasing mix. “The Weasel” is a kraut-rocking jam that features Monte’s stellar space bass grooves and Mae’s back-masked vocals, which seem to collapse in the black hole created by the heavy grooves. My favorite track on the disc by far is Into the Doom. A simple loop slides on down the path and is joined by clarinet, bass & drums. Mae’s vocal are soon too on the march. Another bird-like theremin sound floats above the mix. The song fades out as the parade finally passes.
This album is a great addition to the Moodring catalog. I think the guest performers add depth, space and movement to their other-worldly jams. The music is dense and complex, chilling yet pleasing. This music is perfect for autumnal nights when you want to get your spook on.
~ Dan Cohoon, a=1/f squared

My first contact with this band (a duo at first, now a quartet) that’s been active since 2005. It is basically a side project of the band Rollerball, who does slightly twisted indie rock. On Scared of Ferret, I’m hearing a darker, doom take on Rollerball. Same quality in songwriting, but in an ethereal, ghostly post-jazz guise (Mae Starr’s vocals definitely have a doomed quality). It’s nice but not particularly remarkable, although a second spin could change my mind.
~ François Couture, Monsieur Delire

I don’t know if post-rock is or ever was actually a movement or just the natural outgrowth of musical history, and I certainly am not interested in its validity as a genre label; it’s a useful tag to throw on a number of bands from around the world that, while they don’t actually sound alike, have a certain sensibility in common, so I’ll use it out of pure practicality.  You’ve got Godspeed You Black Emperor and related bands in Canada, Mono in Japan, Mogwai in Scotland, Wang Wen in China, and so on — if there’s a post-rock band in India I’d love to hear them.  The Texas band Hotel Hotel are a solid entry into the fray, and their particular take on it includes the simple fact of their instrumentation: two guitars (or guitar and bass), two violins, and drums.  On this, their third release, th
ey are joined by a number of guests of added guitars, keyboards, drums, and viola.  The added players don’t change the bands general sound, however, which frequently takes spacey guitar drones and adds hypnotic violin motifs building from silence to climax over a long slow course.  It’s one of those cases where simplicity is used to great effect, for while the individual parts are not complex, they are combined in ways that work wonders.  For a taste of their sound, Silber Media has a free live EP available for download, and if you like that, this studio work is even better.
~ Jon Davis, Expose

The driving medium of music is time.  Usually compressed to allow the listener easier access to interactions, the higher clock speeds and shorter forms lock into reassuringly predictable patterns.  Northern Valentine join a minority of artists in departing from this formula, taking a longing look at something music is equally well-suited to: suspending our sense of time.  The steady state is an elusive state, but one that sits just over the horizon of the appropriately pelagic region mapped out by The Distance Brings Us Closer.  The five pieces are laconic, discrete layers of processed guitars, keyboards & violins, added for timbral authenticity.  The envelopes are all marshland soft, with virtually no hard attacks occurring anywhere.  “Dies Solis” (“Days of Sun”), followed by the piece “Dimanche” (“Sunday,” implying some relation) typifies the interestingly segregated structures used here, isolating voices according to frequency range & then looping them at uniform but staggered intervals.  The long-delayed, lockstep recurrences produce an odd dilating effect, with details coming in & out of range in the best vertical music tradition.  NV is usually frank about their loops, with few instances of concealment, enrichment, or other sleight of hand, revealing a simplicity that is at times admirable & at others perhaps too familiar in presentation.  The timbral palette is mostly thin, dishwater-colored, & gratefully dissonant in many places, adding some appreciated pathos.  The Distance Brings Us Closer is not perfect, but it does offer glimpses of what in time should become more profound & genuinely enveloping work.
~ K Leimer, Expose

This entry was posted in daily news, music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.