Reviews by Massimo Ricci

The A23H chronicle



on Moloko+ (Plus 078)

The physiognomy of Five Eyes is as heterogeneous as the fusion of an inauspicious incubus with the realization of being on the path towards a metropolitan enlightenment of sorts. Its acoustic properties contain numberless problems, rigorously to be solved by the listener: doubt must reside in our brain. This record encapsulates uncomfortable truths, surreptitious patterns and surprisingly poetic openings. Each of the eight tracks presents a story that unfolds remorselessly and, at times, awkwardly, leaving no hope for a quiet settlement between Harth and Seidel’s difficult issues and the necessity of a “common” order of things. But an order is present, despite the apparent decompounding of the sonic tissue in various areas. There are threads to follow, and solid rhythms to believe in; never mind what instrument generates what. Perhaps the disc’s most important feature is the “misc” attributed to the couple besides the other sources; that “misc” acts as the fixative that holds everything in place in this implausible fresco. Traits of different species appear to distort the perception of the circumstantial reality. The voices of Nicole Van Den Plas, Bill Shute and Boris Stout allure, affirm and confuse through various episodes, Harth himself pulling a great trick in the final segment “Man-On-The-Side”, typified by his absurdly warped crooning. In “Co-traveler”, what might resemble a multilayered senselessness to the inexpert addressee betrays instead the tortuousness of a wisdom grounded on thousands of undocumented experiences. Caustic frequencies burn; misshapen echoes scare. The perdurability of a given sequence – or, if you will, chordal aura – is in general quite brief. A light flashes, the head is turned to that point; someone whispers and wails, the attention instantly goes there. Finding a method across a wasteland of dramatic urgency is not entirely painless: this is no “laissez-faire” cheapness, there’s nobody around rejoicing for having managed to find textural meaning in a creaking chair in the name of post-Cagean silliness. Still, a measure of relief is gained when “Anticrisis Girl” attempts to caress our previously surcharged auricular membranes: its steady pulse, with a gorgeous loop of tarnished steel string guitar to begin with, carries nevertheless the weight of real significance. But that trip, too, is replete with shifts of atmosphere and unsteady nonchalance: the assonance with the silent internal turbulence defining every sensible person nowadays is almost miraculous. And the pseudo drum ‘n’ bass beat underlining the chaotic multitude of stratifications at the end is a touch of near-perfection. Harth and Seidel go back a long way; their reciprocal knowledge emerges very clearly from this incredible ant nest of lucidly unconventional hypotheses. Referring to the process of re-contextualization of earlier snippets utilized here by the duo, and to the wish of avoiding constrictions of any kind in the assemblage of the work, the drummer calls this music “Herrschaftsfreie” (*), more or less translatable with “without any domination”. I’m not sure that there are so many poseurs – sorry, “artists” – worthy of using the same description today.

(*) The word was originally used in a flyer about Just Music, one of the very first projects by Alfred Harth.

Massimo Ricci in Touching Extremes