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The Moglass - Sparrow Juice

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Artist: The Moglass

Album: Sparrow Juice

Label: Nexsound

Review date: Aug. 16, 2006

The improvised music on Sparrow Juice, from Ukraine's Moglass, is exceedingly difficult to categorize, because it's equally difficult to find points of comparison. Layering synthesizers, guitars, field recordings, and other sound effects, Yuri Kulishenko (a.k.a. Paul Kust) and Oleg Kovalchuk - with a few tracks including Vladimir Bovtenko on sax and Kostya Bovtenko on voice - have found a particular niche that crosses boundaries between jazz and soundtrack, post-rock and noise, even avant-folk and musique concrete. Perhaps the foremost ingredient here is an accomplished approach to drone, seemingly blending guitars and synthesizers with ingredients that have a more organic feel, thanks to conscious use of those field recordings and other treatments.

The Moglass also succeed in balancing a dark mood with textures that give many of the songs a peculiar kind of beauty. Pieces like "Indirect News" and "Revisited with K." pull the listener into a dreamlike vision, filled with echoey vistas of electronic washes and barely-recognizable sounds of voices and buzzing sax. They're very pretty works in an abstract, otherworldly way. In fact, when clear bass notes begin midway through "Revisited with K.," it's a bit of a shock because they sound out of place amidst the other, drifting, sounds.

"Leering Raspberries" is the long centerpiece of this album, which makes sense because it has a slightly different feel, yet lacks the distinct personality of the album's best pieces. The song has more recognizable sounds, particularly free clusters of guitar notes that chatter and squawk over the quiet synths that float out in space. It's a seemingly more traditional improvised piece, based more on typical sounds and less on the alien sonics that lend the bulk of the album such an intriguing personality.

Of the others, we're led through swamps of cinematic horror, filled with creakings and mutterings; dirges filled with deep guitar notes; glaciers of humming wind and quiet bass melodies; and, with the closing "Asimuth Vibrating," a gorgeous tapestry of ur-drone constructed from guitar, synth and voice that's reminiscent of masters like Organum, Total and Lustmord.

The 19 tracks here include nine actual "songs," with each separated and bookended by brief, well-constructed segments of field recordings, from distant murmuring voices to static environments.

With Sparrow Juice, The Moglass have released a unique collection of sound that deserves to not be categorized, because that would inevitably limit the way in which it will be listened to. Instead, this album should be approached with open ears, and a world of sound will be the reward.

By Mason Jones

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