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ckutmusic on 11/14/2012 at 08:00AM

Farewell My Concubine, Fair Well

The return of Les Yeux in the shape of his of his current solo moniker Farewell My Concubine was most anticipated. Several years back, he did a short stint as occasional host of experiment radio collective If You Got Ears. At the time we hadn't a clue of his music-making activities, we just knew he was a master chef of the free-form hash.

Squeezed into the back corner of studios at CKUT, Farewell My Concubine exuded a saturated stream of consciousness, a wavering storyline of structured sounds that were dirty/liquid around the edges, pulsing up the middle, and melodic in conclusion. His set made me feel like I was eavesdropping on something I don't have the capacity to understand. Mixing straightup songwriting with a hint of improvisation in the lyrical delivery, Farewell My Concubine's sound doesn't fall out of the sky fully formed - it's attained through a process of working it out over and over again until recognizable structures congeal, and striated components become smooth.

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Irene_Rible on 03/08/2012 at 03:15PM

Heavenly Creatures: Angels in America

Facing the void at The Red Room in Baltimore, 10/23/2010

So after a long Free Music Archiving hiatus I was happy to discover that Angels in America released their album Narrow Road to the Interior and made a WFMU appearance!  If you're new to them, Angels in America are two people going by the aliases of Moppy Pont and Merv Glisten.  They started making music in 2007 while going to high school in New York.  At their most noisy and distorted they resemble no-wave and industrial acts from decades past, with occasional shoegazing quieter moments, but mostly they embrace a WTF quality that is all their own.

They sent their first two cassette only releases to WFMU in 2009 and chose The Free Music Archive as their sole public presence.  You can get a sense of their cultural taste from the books and newsletters they distribute as Pleasure Editions which includes an impressive mélange of esoteric influences while Merv's weird and wooly Free Music Archive reviews expose the musical diet being fed into in these sonic regurgitations.  And then there is Moppy’s performance art, including her role in Smile Stealers, a student film that looks like what Matthew Barney would create if he directed a Sid and Marty Krofft production. 

More contradictory to their music is their “public persona” (by that I mean their twitter page and one interview).  Their twitter page exhibits the kind of banality media studies professors rail on about during fiery tirades regarding social decay and the decline of Western Civilization.  You won’t glean any insight into their music from this, but you will learn that Merv likes donuts. They also named their first album Cunt Tree Grammar (like that Nelly album - they love puns!).  When I ordered some tapes from them Moppy’s package came wrapped in adorable Hello Kitty stationary while Merv’s included a complimentary Limp Bizkit keychain.

So yes, they can be willfully and perplexingly retarded.  But aren’t nonsense and absurdity just fun, distracting road stops along life’s frightening, existential highway?  Merv and Moppy may laugh, but their music doesn’t.  Rather it cries, and screams, then breaks some stuff, gets driven to the hospital to get a Demerol injection so that it calms down, and passes out.

Moppy’s half-sung/half-spoken vocal delivery is forever vague and ineffable, much like a dream, by the end of the albums you can only pick up small glimmers of meaning, and you're left anxiously scrambling for resolution.  A sense of dangerous excitement emanates from these whispers, like you've discovered a little keyhole through somebody's skull and you’re nervously eavesdropping in on their internal dialogue. Her voice can either hypnotically lull you to sleep or creep with premonitions of something sinister.  The Mazzy Star comparison in the Digitalis review seems strangely appropriate. She’s like Hope Sandoval’s younger, punk sister Hopeless Sandoval (these guys are getting to me - I couldn’t resist a shitty pun!).  Songs such as “Free Galaxy” and “Follow Me Out” are pretty enough that in a more indie-rock friendly incarnation she could be making melancholic make-out music à la Ms. Sandoval…except she might chew off your tongue and spit it in your face.  

Moppy gets her primal scream on for “In Spades” which is probably the stand-out track on the Narrow Road record. Resembling the raw expression present on Patty Water’s “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” or the visceral vocals of Jarboe's live performances, it occupies the psychic space somewhere between a breakdown and a breakthrough.  Drawing strength from confrontation, it's liberating while simultaneously painful and frightening. But just when I feel they're about to suck me into some infernal lair of darkest darkness, then I remember they're tweeting about their snacking habits in random txtspk and I feel way better; maybe they know it's all just a bit of clever theater on a gnostic stage.

As hard as it is to use an achingly earnest word like "authentic" when people are calling themselves Merv and Moppy, there is a feeling here that goes beyond histrionics to hit a place that feels very real. Merv's machines grind away like some kind of aural trepanning while Moppy sings like a siren from the id, beckoning you to dive deeper into the waters of your own unconscious. Much like a shamanic performance, the music drones while she screams, crawls on the floor, and stares into the distance as if in a trance. But rather than voicing the pain of death or destruction, perhaps Angels in America express the struggle of transformation, a black mass burning towards ablutio.

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erincullinane on 11/14/2011 at 06:38PM

The Meaning Of Life

Angels in America -- Merv Glisten & Moppy Pont

Already beginning to nurse my burns, as flames from the sin of a release -- Narrow Road to the Interior  (2011,Ehse) proceed to lap up all around me, I realize this is the moment that my essence has officially been ignited. 

The album opens with heavy breathing -- to alert the listener of the absolute fear we are to encounter, as we spiral down into the maelstrom that is  Angels In America. Instantly, one is debilitated and unconsciously unable to turn away from the captivating violent fire that is Merv Glistens bleak, dreary night lit prism of extended musical techniques and the voice of ethereal emptiness that bleeds from the radiant maiden, Moppy Pont.

Each track is a different ember in the fire and burns with a poetic narrative that mixes the abstract with the concrete, providing an etching to navigate your own soul search with. All the tracks are most compelling and completely disorienting - in a mysterious walk in the woods / harrowing tale, sort of way, with myriad listens --and Angels in America will hypnotize you in to making this part of your daily ritual -- you drift further into your own spiritual mindset, search through the ashes and get a little closer towards the actual Meaning of Life. For in this utterly, utterly beautiful swirl-away, it is obvious, Merv & Moppy already know it.

-- 10/10

If you haven't purchused their LP yet -- I think you should. This is going to be a collectors item in a few years.

Angels in America -- Narrow Road to the Interior


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