| Mandible Chatter:Grace|
(Manifold - 1995)
This disc runs the ambient gamut... from samples and synths, to drones and rhythmic tribal percussion, to acoustic guitar music. There's a wide variety of interesting sounds happening here.
|Mandible Chatter is comprised primarily of Neville Harson and Grant Miller, with a few other musical contributors. What's striking about their work here is that most tracks are so distinctly different from the others stylistically speaking; if you love the long drone of The Silent Presence, you might hate the laid-back acoustics of Forty Mile Lullaby. Personally, I like it all. These differing elements are all brought together quite nicely.|
A hazily sampled circus atmosphere greets us in Nevermind the Credits; Start the Dream, but the sounds are soon overridden by the horrendous screeching of distressed metal (or a distressed chimpanzee?) which then quickly settles into an acoustic guitar and cello number, its background interwoven with subtle synth distortions. The Silent Presence is not exactly silent; it's 5-1/2 minutes of layered droning. Subtle changes and varied, quiet noises keep it active enough, though. The piece segues directly into...
Piper in the Woods, where the drone fades and is overtaken by a tribal wooden-drum rhythm. The "piper"'s tones are distorted and mostly hidden behind the wall of percussion. (Hey! I understand the title now...) The drumming fades at the end into a cloud of squeaks and squawks, which fades into silence. The silence slowly becomes Beyond the Valley of Blue Rosebuds, which begins its multi-faceted life as a horn-like drone, becoming overlaid by a slow reverberating strum, then by strangely twisted sound samples. These completely unidentifiable noises stir, mutating as they go. Alien winds begin to blow and the piece soon erupts into an uncomfortably bizarre cacaphony of shrill noise, which finally smooths into horn based swells. Quite a place!
The Elements consists of 4 parts: a. Balance sounds like falling metal BB's tinkling over a xylophone. Trickling water (and frog) sounds emerge, and we're off into b. Motion, which consists of an insistent, throbbing two-note bassline and chaotic noises slurring in the distance. c. Radiance begins with switches of some sort clicking on to activate whirring, phasing synthetic bell-tones. Finally, d. Vibration brings us a slowed down vocal (Good Vibrations?) blended with what seems to be an accordian track. Sleepless Night #37 is a 58-second, footsteps walking down the hall, opening the door onto strange noises, then slamming the door kinda thing. Short and simple, it seems to me.
More guitar (acoustic and electric) and cello dominate Forty Mile Lullaby, a straightforward, peaceful arrangement that, to me, is evocative of some wide open expanse. Even your grandmother would call this "music". Night of Falling Trees though, could scare her out of her shorts. It ventures back into another chaotic otherworld, complete with roaring winds and rumbling sub-sounds. Other electronic noises enter; vertigo-inducing squeals and ripples, backward waves, and human(?) wailing. The intensity builds, then lulls.
The final track, Grace, is strange and tranquil. Fuzzy piano chords and synth-horn slowly play over a pulsating drone. The track ends after 5 minutes, but stick around 60 seconds longer for a spin of the radio dial from whatever world Mandible Chatter originate from.
|If you're eager to hear some experimentation with sound and music, Grace should thrill you! As I've pointed out, it's often weird and sometimes discomforting, but always amazing in its variety and innovation. I don't hesitate to give award this CD with one very strong thumb up.|
This review posted July 12, 1997