Monday, February 25, 2008

MOON WIRING CLUB, An Audience of Art Deco Eyes (Gecophonic)
The Wire, February 2008

by Simon Reynolds

It's always a tricky moment when a genre achieves definition--its constellation of reference points mapped out, its repertoire of tricks codified. For that's when being "generic" becomes a possibility. Then again, if a genre's got a lot going for it, what exactly is the problem? The bustle of new recruits just adds to the excitement, as everyone from doom metal fiends to free folk freaks can attest. The more, the merrier.

Or in the case of Moon Wiring Club, "the more, the spookier"--the genre in question being hauntology. Ian Hodgson, the figure behind MWC, is no bandwagon-hopping neophyte, however. Despite the uncanny parallels with Ghost Box--not just shared preoccupations with horror, children's television, wyrd pastoralism, maverick electronics, but the creatin of a Belbury-like imaginary town called Clinkskell--Hodgson has been exploring this area for several years. An Audience of Deco Eyes, MWC's debut, evolved out of what was originally intended to be "a peculiar children's book," Strange Reports from a Northern Village.

Like Ghost Box and Mordant Music, Moon Wiring Club utilizes a lot of library music and pulp soundtrack motifs. But the music's construction and feel is more beat-driven and loop-based:. Certain tracks suggest trip hop if its sample-palette didn't draw on jazz but the incidental music in The Prisoner. "Mademoiselle Marionette" could almost rock a dancefloor, while the reverbed-bass pulse of "Roger's Ghost" recalls 23 Skidoo's blend of dank industrial and hot funk. Alongside these kinetic tracks, there's midtempo contraptions-gone-awry like "The Edwardians Begin to Enjoy Themselves" and gaseous ambience like "Ghost Radio" and "Underground Library".

Crusty English voices limn the album, warning about "the treacherous elm" or offering the decimalization-era apology "I've only got… old money". But rather than mere quirky quaintness, the atmosphere conjured is a morbid malaise redolent of Peeping Tom or The Servant, the sense of something grotesque and corrupt lurking within the shrubbery, behind the curtained French windows. With its fidgety intricacy and slow-panning stereophony, Hodgson's audio-montage and sound-design is immaculate throughout, making Art Deco Eyes a bewitching and genuinely disquieting listen.


Kristian Twombly said...

Simon - really sorry to hijack a comment thread with this...really enjoyed meeting you in Minneapolis, and I hope I didn't get you sick at all. I was awake for two hours on Sunday and thus missed your talk (which was going to be the highlight of the week for me).

Anyway - I really enjoy reading through all of these blogs! Wow! My readership is so small I often don't post when I should. Reading yours makes me want to give it a go again, though.

Here's my tiny corner of cyberspace:

simon reynolds said...

hey kristian

great to meet you likewise, hope you are feeling better

so far i haven't come down with anything yet! touch wood. it's been a hellacious season for illnesses, this winter.

i'll check out your blog

all best