Mooch - "In Search Of The Acid Metal Grille"
(Dead Earnest 1998, DERNCD 33)
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
The latest from our friends at Dead Earnest is the fourth release by electronic adventurers Mooch. Mooch began in 1992 and throughout their four recordings have had a changing lineup with founder Steve Palmer at the helm. Palmer is a musician and novelist having written two works of science fiction: Memory Seed from '96 and Glass from '97. On two of Metal Grille's four tracks the band consists of Palmer on keyboards, samples & programming, deraboukah, and been (whatever those are), Garry Lewin on keyboards and big drum, and Phil Watson on analogue keyboard, and on the other two we have Palmer and guitarist Peter Wyer.
Mooch describe their music as ambient psychedelia and in this they succeed to an extent. The music is partly Tangerine Dream style keyboard journeys, though the music is subtler and more is happening musically. The tracks with Wyer, on the other hand, recall Ash Ra Tempel's guitar and electronica explorations. The 22 minute "Ocean Of Mercury" is one such track with Palmer maintaining a sequenced synth pattern accompanied by more floating keyboards and Wyer's slowly soloing guitar. "Acid Drenched Symphony", the other Palmer/Wyer duo track is similar and aptly titled. Again Palmer sets down a sequenced synth style but it shifts continually throughout the track's 20 minutes. Quietly symphonic keyboard textures create the background layers and Wyer's guitar intermittently comes in to explore for a while and then fade away. The guitar eventually becomes more prominent (though I wouldn't call it "acid drenched") and while not overly exciting it does sound really nice playing against the rapidly vibrating sequenced portions.
"In Search Of Homo Sapiens Psychedelicus" has the big drum holding down the beat instead of the sequenced synth giving the tune a tribal flavor. The synths are particularly trippy and the whole thing conjured up images of an Indian ceremony under a clear night sky with shooting stars and meteor showers. "Vastscape" at 7 minutes is the shortest track, but the most cosmically atmospheric. A synth produced horn seems to call the faithful to congregation with the sound of the wind blowing and repeating synth lines that shift subtly throughout the tune. Music for mind expansion indeed.
At first I thought I liked the synth/guitar duo tracks best. But in the end I thought the other two were stronger as I felt more encouraged to close my eyes and let the music carry me away.
For more information on Mooch and other great Dead Earnest releases you can visit the Dead Earnest web site.
Steve Palmer also maintains a web site for Mooch and his writing projects.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz