Minmae - "Microcassette Quatrains" (BlueSanct 2003, INR1046, CD)
Minmae - "My First Brush With Infinity" (Octane Grammophon 2002, 7" 45rpm)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
Minmae is the project name of Portland, Oregon musician Sean Brooks. I've reviewed several Minmae releases now and Brooks covers a range of territory from noise-psych and drone to lo-fi songs. Microcassette Quatrains is on the BlueSanct label and is the CD reissue of Minmae's first cassette release from 1999, and includes the songs from his first 7" as bonus tracks. The CD's 17 tracks range in length from under a minute to nearly 10 minutes, with only 3 of them being lengthier stretch-out tunes (though some flow fairly seamless into the next).
The music includes noise-psych excursions, droning space rock, lo-fi Shoegaze songs, and sound-art collages. The extended tracks were among my favorites. "Perpetual Shift Introduction" consists of gradually evolving noise-guitar washes and drones that roll across a harsh but friendly landscape. The music is aggressive and will challenge anyone's concept of aesthetics, though the aggression is done in that tender and, dare I say, melodic style that noise-psych fans will understand. Somewhat in the realm of Bardo Pond or the earliest SubArachnoid Space recordings. "Long Wave" features alien spaceship rock that blends Kraftwerk, Can and Forbidden Planet. A haunting keyboard melody drifts along at a drugged pace, backed by slow but steady beats and freaky swirly alien synths.
The tracks from the first 7" include some of the heaviest use of alien electronics I've heard on any Minmae recording. "Poltergeist Over England" is a very cool freaked out tune on which the mothership has sustained serious damage and is slowly grinding to a halt. "Macross Dub" is a 9 minute space journey that is similar to "Long Wave", though the keyboard melody combined with psych guitar freakouts and shooting alien synths brought to mind a Pink Floyd meets Acid Mothers Temple glom. I really liked this one.
Other highlights include "Minmae Opens Novella", an interesting tune that combines painful noise and a muddy wall of sound with off-kilter rhythms and floating cosmic space rock. "The Bastard" is similar, but has a dark, haunting metallic flavor. "Sound Of One Hand Clapping", "Wontonness" and "Summertime w/You" are examples of Minmae's ethereal lo-fi brand of "static-pop", as I call it. And "How Union & Beech Used To Be" has some cool Beatles "Blue Jay Way" type efx'd vocals.
My First Brush With Infinity is Minmae's latest 7" on the Finland based Octane Grammophon label and includes some of the best Minmae stuff I've heard yet. "We're All Friends Here" has pulsating keyboard lines, almost jazz styled drumming, and slowly winding power guitars that remind me of the Finnish band Circle, and makes for a floating but heavy rocking psychedelic ride. "I'm Getting Out Of Forensics" opens with a sustained keyboard line, but soon launches into a thud rocker that reminds me of an XTC song I can quite place, but played after being dosed with valium. Of course the grungier psych guitars soon form an underlying layer that adds a wall-of-noise edge to the music along with a meandering trip guitar solo, but does so without infringing on the main theme. Great stuff. I hope this gives us a hint as to what the next Minmae full length will sound like because this is excellent stuff.
For more information you can visit the Minmae web site at: http://www.minmae.com.
Microcassette Quatrains is distributed by BlueSanct. You can visit their web site at: http://www.bluesanct.com.
My First Brush With Infinity is distributed by Octan Grammophon. You can email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz