Mooch - "The Crypt of Artificial Intelligences"
(self released 2007, Mooch Remaster #2, digital download album)
From Aural Innovations #35 (January 2007)
Flight of the Dub Voyager (see AI #32) was the first in Steve Palmer's planned series of remastered versions of Mooch music never before released - except, in a small number of cases, as one-off private releases. The Crypt Of Artificial Intelligences is the second in the series and consists of music recorded in 1994, directly after the Postvorta album (Taste label 1994).
The album opens with "Deep Space Qand-Aravanserai", a cosmic dance piece with salsa like shaker percussion, deep Dub bass, techno beats and howling space keys (analog and digital keys by Cal and Garry Lewin). I love the almost undefinable rhythmic stew on this track, which in its last couple minutes takes a turn into even deeper space and veers off into yet another percussion theme. The nearly 22 minute "India Oceania" continues down a similar path, laying down a cool cosmic groove with flutes/horns, ethnic influences and freaky alien voice samples and effects to create a cool dance party in space. Mooch have always had a real talent for throwing multiple bits and pieces of sounds, effects and music into the pot while maintaining the craftsman's control over the proceedings. The groove is continuous, and subtle transitions take the music down a variety of paths, including chanting middle eastern ragas, call-to-prayer horns, and a cool Ash Ra Tempel sounding guitar segment. "Al-Jabr" is a way too short space jazzy piece that ends just as it's taking off. I would have liked to have heard this fleshed out more. And "Brain-Map" features an interesting combination of quirky syncopated keyboard patterns and meditative ambient waves.
But the last two tracks of the set, totaling about 34 minutes of music, are easily my favorites. "The Crypt (Riyadh)" is an often haunting, sometimes intense, image inducing track that is part soundtrack, part sound-art experimentation, and part space based progressive rock. It's a cinematic journey that includes some of the most challenging and adventurous music on the album. "Medina Oasis" picks up where "The Crypt" left off, using mostly guitar and effects to create a drifting and slightly jazzy ambient space excursion. The music has a kind of spaced out avant-garde soundtrack feel, occupying a dream realm, limbo or alternate dimension of lost souls. It's space ambient, yet colorful, full of character, and even playful.
Credit Steve Palmer's production work stitching everything together with the artful way in which so many elements come together and skillfully avoid chaos. You can listen to this album over and over and find something new each time. A must have for Mooch fans and Palmer followers in general.
For more information you can visit the Stephen Palmer web site at: http://www.stephenpalmer.co.uk.
Note that The Crypt of Artificial Intelligences will be available to purchase only as a digital download from Northern Star Records. You can visit their web site at: http://www.northernstarrecords.co.uk.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz