Through the Looking Glass

Annual General Meeting Record, Vol. 1 – Anti-Ghost Moon Ray

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“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends” said the Cat, “on where you want to get to…”

For some time now, at least for the past couple of years, I have felt myself emerging from a wilderness of musical direction and not quite sure what I wanted to listen to next.
Not in terms of what was coming  (it doesn’t have to be new to be interesting) but more from a personal sense of taste and discovery.

I’ve listened to hundreds of albums in all kinds of genres, and now and again some have stood out, appealed and enthused. Very few times am I ever disappointed.

But I realised almost without noticing that the path I was taking signposted ‘next’ was lined with compilation albums and label samples. The likes of Nightingale Variations (Kooky Discs) and the recent Ghost Box anthology In A Moment

This album, an exhibition of works by Anti-Ghost Moon Ray confirms my direction, and I so look forward to spending time here, in the left-field underworld of transdisciplinary, intellectual music.

It’s a curious mix of tracks and artists linked by structural, compositional ideas and intention, access to which is opened via Benge’s beautiful Septobel a gently haunting piece of analogue synthporn, oozing sophistication and graceful charm.

This leads into an esoteric collection of songs and artistic statements that do not accord with normative conceptions of music.

Ausschuss’ Ravoir for example is disturbing and intense, but not without a gothic beauty. Mechanical, dystopian, and abrasive set against beautiful harmonic voices. Disquieting, in its own way, just as Alex Painters piece that follows.
Cacophonous and discordant. Transgresses into the vague, haunting and mesmerising world of Michael Tanner’s Plinth.

For me, the album’s zenith is Nila Son’s Wyndow Hole – a composite of found sounds and manipulated field recordings. It’s a revelation and for this reviewer the album’s standout track – a sculpture of innovative sound, carved with sequenced synthesizers and abstract, repeated phrases sharpened on blips and uncomfortable radio waves. Every compilation I have tried has one stand out track that sets me off on another path of discovery, from whence I flit around the other contributors. I look forward to ‘I’

In the wake of this intriguing gem, I overlooked Deeds’ Fizzy Logic for the first three minutes, but’s its persistence lingered and attracted me, Love the abrupt ending. From which I fell off into Acquaintance’s Polite Applause, which fidgets and glitches its way to drawer marked IDM.

Rosen’s Ilim sums up the whole Report – it feels like walking in to a strange laboratory of aural magic, bottles of sounds on shelves. The last remaining Jazz Funk Greats. Copies of International Times. Limited edition 10” vinyl acetates. Railway sound effects. Glass beads in trays of tinkling sand. Disturbing in places, and utterly rummage-worthy

Gazelle Twin’s new piece Outer Body is outside the window, scratching at the glass and whispering under the door. A ghost passing through. Fight or flight. And bernholz 33 is an exercise in dark experimentation, claustrophobic and destructive

Don’t Look, it’s f*cking weird.
“How can you listen to this sh*t, it’s not what I call music…”

True enough, you bl**dy lightweight. Given all its varied forms and its inherently multidimensional nature, the Annual General Meeting Record requires some degree of imaginative participation in order to be fully understood.

In that respect, it’s worth 50 minutes of anyone’s time seeking to expand their musical horizons and deviate a little from the traditional course of mainstream popular culture.
None of the tracks have any vocals in the conventional sense, but neither is the album instrumental. Well, not in that sense. Depends on your definition.

There are voices: snatches of recorded conversation, whispers and harmonies; and Anti-Ghost Moon Ray are an orchestra of change, instrumental agents in the process of hauntological expansion and psycho-delic enhancement.

Future Image – Resolute sounds like someone trying to tune the wireless and practising making loops with a drum machine, while the last exhibit,  Cardinal Fang’s macabre noise fest New For You taking us right back to the earliest DIY warehouse days of Mute , Industrial and Some Bizarre records. As an exception, it justifies the rule. The vocal is Genesis P.Orridge vs Marc Almond and the whole structure and presentation of the song makes it feel like a candidate for inclusion as a bonus track on any subsequent re-issues of TG’s debut Second Annual Report.

Which closes the circle nicely. The black and white simple cover of AGMR Vol 1 echoes the simplicity of that seminal release and the nondescript title similarly belies the bizarre and compelling contents of the tape. Unlike TG though, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray as a collective are not antagonists or provocateurs, there is no evil intent and the aesthetic is not one of depravity and abrasion with a mission to shock. Instead, as a collection of new music, AGMR Vol 1 is curious and intriguing. Esoteric for sure, pretentious in places and based on an intellectualism that demands something of its audience. But if you are reading this, then you have what it takes and an hour of your time rummaging in their labarotory just might give you a notebook full of ideas.

I love it, and will return to the beginning as soon as I have finished writing this.
Which would almost certainly be different if I were to write it again in an hour’s time.

Next?
Well. Bright Sparks of course. I Monster and the exploration of Synth.

‘How refreshing it is’ she mused, ‘to find there are so many people Still Walking’

 

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