December 10 2008
Wonderful vagueness: Woozy and gorgeous cycles.
Music is never just the mathematical sum of its ingredients, so put away the CD cover of "Her Mouth is an Outlaw" for a second and close your eyes. Good. Never thought you could actually sit this still. Now listen. With your eyes closed and even though you're stumbling in complete darkness, tell me what you're hearing. It doesn't matter whether or not you think it makes all that much sense. Just tell me your impressions as they inevitably start manifesting themselves in your mind's eye.
There's a warm, four chord riff played in a painfully slow offbeat rhythm. Soft drone tremolos blowing airy melodic kisses at me. Scratching and squeaking noises that don't sound aggressive at all, rather like being played with great care and sensitivity. As though someone were caressingly plucking and tearing barbwire with his bare hands.
Ouch! But you're doing good, very good in fact. What else do you hear?
Everything seems to float and drift, the entire music is located in the upper registers without any kind of bass anchoring. Even though this piece…
…it is called "Her Mouth is an Outlaw", by the way, just like the album…
…thank you… well, it appears to be looped, nothing really ever stays the same. The riff decomposes, stretches, wears out and turns metallic – yeah, it is as though it were turning from a sonic element into a stretched-out aluminum wire, glistening in the summer sun.
Interesting, your psychiatrist would definitely be pleased. Let's skip this track, shall we, and get to the next piece…
Wow. There's a lot of Bass in this one. Very dreamy. Very deep and dreamy. I like the breath of this, its wamth and sense of epic wideness. It could go on like this forever. But are those brushed drums I hear? Yes, it's like a percussionist absentmindedly dusting off his set on a Sunday morning while listening to a mellow Guitar Drone record…
With the way you usually party away your Saturday nights, I'm surprised to find you know what a Sunday morning is like at all. But please do go on.
I can now distinctly discern an electric hum. Sounds pretty much like the old fridge me and my girlfriend bought on ebay and which keeps breaking down on us all the time. One moment it's getting louder, roaring like an animal, the next it's all quiet and subdued again. The combination of this buzzing noise with the soundscape is astoundingly relaxing, if you ask me. That percussionist has found his groove, too, and there are some delightfully weightless harmonies simmering in the distance. Show me more, please!
I was hoping you'd ask. This one's called "Poor People in Church"…
Much darker… Almost like the aftermath of a Rock track. These bent tones have a vey organic touch to them, like wild beasts screaming and wailing. Next!
An oriental melody on some kind of mediaeval instrument. Is this a Zither? Or a completely detuned Piano? Suspenseful to the point of threatening. The foreground is in constant motion and the background appears static in a mysteriously fluent way. Wait, now everything's suddenly gaining in dynamics. A sudden surge, a rush of adrenaline. A wordless anthem, no less.
Glad you like it. The title of the next piece seems to have been selected just for you ("Someplace Nowhere All the Time"), but it's just a short recap of the opening, so we can leave that one out. And "Up With the Curtain, Down With Yr Pants" is a woozy, gorgeous acoustic Guitar cycle of three and a half minutes, which you ought to be listening to with that lovely girlfriend of yours sitting next to you instead of me. But I really want you to check out the last piece of the album, "Memories of the Feeble-Minded". Don't you just love how it manages to suggest development and motion, always appearing to lift off every second without ever actually doing so and remaining on a level of wonderful vagueness, as though someone had forgotten to turn up the volume?
It's very nice indeed.
The point of this little experiment is this: I could have told you before that the band behind this project is called Amplifier Machine and comprises of a trio of Australian musicians playing Drums, Violins, Piano, Guitar and a Synthesizer. I could have mentioned that their music has been labeled an odd duck in the catalogue of their label, 12k. That some have called them a Post Rock band and compared them to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I could have briefly touched upon the loose conceptual approach of the band, which discreetly dictates that "when the other two members have settled, it's your turn to change". Oh, and I could, of course, have praised the minimal artwork, which captures a very concrete scene and manages to transform it into a mood-setting point of departure for the music as such. But this is music which detaches itself from its creational process and builds something strangely alluring from completely familar ingredients. Knowing all these things and juggling all these terms would not have made the slightest difference in appreciating the brittle beauty of "Her Mouth is an Outlaw", nor would they have brought you any additional insight, wouldn't you agree?
Yes I would. Can you please re-press play now and finally stop talking?
By Tobias Fischer