Muldjewangk, Morgawr And Other Monsters

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Andrew Liles is an incredibly prolific musician working in the same vein as artists like Nurse With Wound and The Hafler Trio, releasing his oblique, idiosyncratic Surrealist sound compositions at a terrific rate to a fanbase who must have a good deal of disposable income. This disc is part of a larger collection of “Monster” themed works by Liles, from more music to wristbands, shirts, guitar picks and so on. This ‘brand’ seems to be presented with a certain sense of humour and a bit of a nod and a wink.

The bestiary to hand on this disc is a curious one, and we scuttle sidelong into it with the excellent digeridoo-drenched tribal oddness of ‘Swamp Thing’, which is surrounded by two more free-form pieces comprising creepy spoken-word stories, children singing and so on. In fact the longer you delve into ‘Muldjewangk, Morgawr & Other Monsters’, the more this becomes an obvious underpinning stylistic theme, the spoken word elements in a dozen languages (all real? I can’t tell) and spooky chanting/singing in children’s voices crops up repeatedly throughout.

Following the slightly helter-skelter opening sequence, things take a murky turn into the spaced-out and strange. ‘Pine Cold Emerald Lights’ is morose and Slavic – lamenting violins lurch around under a male voice imparting something Cyrillic. But then we’re led to meet the monster, more children’s voices intoning ‘followfollowfollow’ over and over, and we’re deep in the jungle.

More and more twists and turns follow, clattering, off kilter drums, sonorous tones and more half-heard narrations, a terrifying diversion into drum & bass, intonations and incantations. It’s all grist to the Andrew Liles mill, a genuine feeling of a confused stagger through a cryptozoological safari park while feeling like it’s all done with a sly grin. Also worth noting is the seeming lack or concealment of overtly electronic sounds or techniques, other than effects. This gives a really organic, earthy feeling, the twists and turns in the composition feeling like a natural shift. The one point where electronics show up – the queasy breakbeat section in ‘Gin Tumbler Landfill’ – it comes in like a radio being tuned to that accidentally and then is abruptly interrupted with a sudden shift to violin and piano, as if switched off in disgust.

I don’t really know much of Andrew Liles’ work away from his collaborations with NWW and Current 93 so this was an interesting listen for me, imagining the crossovers and identifying the stylistic differences. He’s definitely a point on that post-industrial Surrealist continuum, and long may he remain so.

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