Monday, October 20, 2008

Ogogo - Linden

I am not sure how this came to me - iii records are based in Japan, and Ogogo is Igor (guitars, though there seems to be other instruments) and the album is Linden. It is based around 12 paintings by Ron Linden that are reproduced in the quality booklet. The paintings are flat semiabstract images, painted with muted colours. Some feature curved diamond shapes, that the final image, USSUR, confirms are eyes. Some represent three-dimensional cubist still lives, others flat compositions or almost calligraphic or musical notations of the eyes and stave bars (some are among those on show at his web site). Anyway, on the whole non-figurative and a big ask to create a musical interpretation. While I can see some trends in the music, I am not sure my reading of the music/image relationship is the same as Ogogo's - but that is irrelevant as it is the music which counts. There are four 'styles' that I can identify on the album.

The first three tracks (Eye spring, Flygel and Pidgin) follow a pattern that seems common of putting the most confronting music first. These comprise extremely choppy D'n'B percussion with guitar pulses and sorties together with some found sounds, but also with patches of calm. Initially these are not inviting tracks, but repeated playing provides more access. The style crops up again later in the album - Murdrus dueluct is another that is fast and distorted.

OK, my second category is electronica: comes in both fast and restrained, and takes the guitar/percussion mix and adding other instruments and more samples. Sabbatarian is full on with water sounds, choppy organ and a skittering guitar and has voice samples in near the end, the crackles, wargame tones and abstract noises of Preplay actually reflect the images. Shem the Penman is fast distorted and chopped/cut, changing density (and neither image nor music recall Finnegans Wake to me), and more chopping eruptions on Ussur.

Strangely classified by me as musical, or perhaps simple would be better: Eroscope features a slightly distorted keyboard melody, which is varied and modified with subtle restraint, Ohfey is a guitar solo with some gentle electrobacking.

Finally more structured pieces: Obdura moves through a solid rhythm loop and burr, a voice and plane sample, peacock calling, a mower the rhythm returns, peacock returns then drum and voice and finally a crushing crackle in the last half minute. My favourite The K is a long piece featuring a goose, rhythm guitar and a baroque like melody which weave in and out through each other. A beautiful light touch in this almost 9 minutes (any track featuring a goose has my vote, and an album with peacock is furtehr ahead!).

Two additional tracks: Eroscope vs Eye spring (dance remix) puts the rhythm of the first under the musicality of the second, to good effect, while the TRS remix of Pidgin is a reasonable reinterpretation but not at all radical.

On the album these tracks, other than the last two and the bursting of the first three, are mixed and shuffled together. The sequence works pretty well, and the elements which flow through (sirens, bird sounds) give the whole some coherence. Definitely an album that gives you access to its complexity and pleasures after a few listenings have got you in tune with the aesthetic. Not one to relax to but rather stimulating.

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