24 May 2010

moolen - art of heartwork

Post Rock.

I read the term quite a bit while searching through different netlabels, artists, what have you. In my mind it has a lot of potential as to where it can lead you from new sounds with old instruments, to artistic freedom, to someone just jerking your chain.

Wikipedia suggests that Post Rock is:

...a musical genre characterized by the use of instruments commonly associated with rock music, but using rhythms, harmonies,melodies, timbres, and chord progressions not traditionally found in rock. Post-rock musicians typically produce instrumental music.

As a musical genre, post-rock is arguably too vague to be useful. Don Caballero and Tortoise were among the more prominent bands described as post-rock in the 1990s, but their styles are very different, despite being instrumental bands centered on guitars and drums. As such, the term has been the subject of backlash from listeners and artists alike.

Although firmly rooted in the indie or underground scene of the 1980s and '90s, post-rock's style often bears little resemblance musically to that of indie rock.

So, before I go into this review, I need to hear some other examples to get a point of reference.

Here are the examples I found on soundcloud:

Post Rock Jam by Oscar South

Post-rock in Progress by sshannon

Nic Bommarito | Better Then Way Too Post-Rock by Bit Rebels

Now, in some weird way, both you and I get a reference point for the wonderful task at hand. There's a ton of potential and possibility for the sounds, the atmosphere, the experimentation which can go into this genre.

This is where moolen comes in. moolen's latest work can be found on the LCL netlabel under their Carte Blanche releases. LCL releases some terrific dub sounds, and with their Carte Blanche series they allow other artists to spread their wings into other sub-genres of their liking.

When I first heard moolen's album, it had me intrigued. Here's how best to describe it.

There are children's toys (both homemade and from stores) which usually have rice or sand or some sort of fabricated "pebble" material in a type of pliable pouch or container. There is usually a list of items found on the other side, and as you move the main substance around in the container you can find the hidden objects listed.

With "art of heartwork", and this analogy in mind, you get a fun musical journey through this post rock trip. In the first song, Nineteen (the first one), you hear busy signals, recorded voices, a rainstick, and large crashing drums in the middle; all with calming guitar riffs playing in the foreground. The addition of music concrete and samples takes the album from nice to nifty.

Dreamshard goes from this downtempo sifter (?) to a more, ummm, upbeat acoustic chill song with little sounds and glitches and clicks in the background.

As you listen, see how many more "objects" you can find in the little pouch.

Fly pts. 2 and 1 (how they appear on the tracklisting) take this electronic/acoustic combination and adds in backwards playing loops, neat echos, sounds of the ocean coming into shore, computer glitches and bleeps, a cellphone ringing, a chimpanzee, bike bells - one song flowing in, and one song ebbing out. I'm sure your imagination will coming into play by now!

Then comes my favorite song of the whole set: brokentopflow. It starts with some high pitched "strings" overlaid with lower sounding keyboards. This goes on until the drums kick in with glitches and faint robotic voices in the background, then reverting to the strings and background atmospheres. It's a calm, melodic track with a gentle back and forth between acoustic and electronic until about 2:35 with the introduction of processed heavy metal screaming in the background. It is this unique contrast between heavy drums, gentle melodies, and "screaming" which makes this track such a keeper (at first listen, I thought it was a Lil' John soundtrack, but after a while I heard otherwise).

In my opinion, moolen also plays with track continuity by throwing different sections of song to opposite ends of the album. The first and sixth songs are both entitled "nineteen" with the second and seventh songs coming under "dreamshard."

Okay, now listen to the two parts back to back... one flows in with sounds and the other seems to take that flow, continue on the energy while finishing the thought started by the first part.

Heck, "dreamshard" part two takes this to the extreme. Part one starts off as an upbeat happy dream while part two begins with an aggressive vocal sample retreating back into softness then into the abstract. It is a dream which turns into something intense with a peaceful resolution at the end.

After all of this, what is my verdict?

It's such an interesting album with parts electronic, parts acoustic, parts samples, and parts artistic interruption. It is literally a splendid grab bag of sounds and samples which keep you playing and replaying the album just to catch a sound you hadn't heard before. Plus, with the unique song structure/continuity, moolen invites you to listen over and over. It is this, for the lack of better words, playfulness and imagination that both define the album. Compared to the Post Rock samples given earlier, there is a similarity.

But with the experimentation, the "road less traveled" becomes your main path taking you down the track to auditory exhilaration and contentment leaving you to say to yourself, "This is the way this album should be," then pressing play to listen to it all over again.


Arnold said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



UBLF said...


Glad to have you on board and thanks for the kind words! If you have any great music suggestions, feel free to let me know!