Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Marcelo Radulovich: Mercurio

Marcelo Radulovich - part of Trummerflora, a phonographer, heard on Accretions and producer of solo material via Titicacamanbox: reviewed at &etc often - has produced another solo-distributed album of songs - Mercurio. The title suggests mercurial, mercury, a curio, a sub-anagram of his whole name. And the music meets that varied constellation of ideas, such that a track by track run through may be the best approach. But a note on his voice first - it is a gruff heartbreaking and emotive instrument, instantly recognisable in the same way that Tom Waits is - though not like or unlike him. His lyrics are poetic and intriguing, and are sung or recited often at the same time in multitracking, sometimes for harmony and others layering slightly out-of-phase in different styles

  • Turn on the phone - guitars, percussion, keyboards coalesce into the song and the album, then the voice enters, softer and perhaps sweeter (less husky) than earlier albums (more obviously sung), quieter layers behind, cluttering spoon percussion, a brief breakdown as a vocal-note jumps, then returning to the gentle song.
  • Purge it from the world - impressively the most hooky songs on the album are some of the most political - this jolly loungey number with hum-along doodoodoos has the chorus 'If we don't like it, we purge it from the world'
  • Paris ampheta - crackling electronica winds for about a minute continues as a slow melody of drums and keys as Radulovich chews out an echoed poem, allusive and intriguing.
  • For real - a more centralist song (for Radulovich) that deserves the radio tag - hooks, a more abstract echoed percussive opening, bass, twangy acoustic guitar then Marcelo's vocals, multitracked, yearning. A guitar solo over violin/guitar scrape-bowing ends a 'radio' song.
  • How it goes - relaxed, bucolic - electronic soundscape of watery crackles and birdsong builds throughout, simple acoustic guitar, harmonised vocals.
  • Evolution - tuned percussion, vocal as from a radio, then the lyrics sung, spoken and singing alternate/overlay, strangely a Prince-like scream/squeak pops up a few times
  • Trying to convince me - a lovely crystal ringing - almost a separate track - then a rocking heavy number reminiscent of the last album title track.
  • Swastikas - totally weird, possibly my favourite track, a cracked poem about banners with swastikas, blood spatter patterns, spoken/sung in different voices overlapping and repeating over a minimal atonal backing.
  • Keep the watch - hissing sample, layered miltitracked recitation of a short poem over an electronic soundscape
  • Tartamudo - longest on the album, vinyl crackles with bubbling bloops for a minute, then a distant ambient/frippy guitar slides under a Spanish sung/spoken lyric, percussion eruptions, shifting emotions in vocalisation and music - I wish I understood the language - what is that slurping near the end?
  • A territorial invasion - distant music as a squeaky voice asks 'let me out of here', the song is a bright and jolly musical number, underscored by the voice recurring,
  • Sate sane - a melodica, flowing Spanish, loose strung guitar, intimate and felt
  • Combra siembra - a cracking cracked soundscape, Spanish again, bass enters to stabilise and progress the music.
  • In case I forgot to mention - another overtly political piece to end the album - including samples of George Bush (some used before in the EP - The Evil One). The first part is a song of regret 'In case I forgot to mention, we voted for you, keep thinking about interventions, and how to get rid of you' -again a refrain whose music burns into your brain; it then morphs into a soundscape where the repeated phrase 'he's a torturer, he's a deceiver ...' seems to lose its initial target and turn back on George Bush. Drifting crackles, guitar and percussive shimmers overly distant speech snatches. A fine, unusual and fitting conclusion.
It is personal, political, melodic, abstract at each turn, often in the same song as he has musical ideas that he doesn't want to throw out: the opening of Trying to convince me, for instance, doesn't have much to do with the 'song' part, but is a lovely piece that adds to the contrasts of the album. Whether radio would actually play the tracks labelled (Radio) I am not sure. What I do know is that I will play it, that like his previous album there are songs that have hooked themselves into my brain and are still banging about in there, and that Marcelo is a talented and unique guy, with a unique voice (both literally, but also in terms of his lyrics and music). Seek this from him cause music like this needs to be heard.

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