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Lasse Marhaug and Bruce Russell - Virginia Plane

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Artist: Lasse Marhaug and Bruce Russell

Album: Virginia Plane

Label: Spring Press

Review date: Feb. 20, 2013

Is there anything more boring in the field of noise than cognitive dissonance? “Ooh, we’re gonna say one thing then make it this wholly different thing and maybe it will BLOW YOUR MIND, DOGG.” There is nothing more than this at stake here, as The Dead C.’s Bruce Russell meets up with Jazkamer noisemeister Lasse Marhaug for a kinetic but ultimately fruitless session, dedicated without reason or logic to Roxy Music.

There on the cover is a quick sketch of what we can presume are the five musicians inside the gatefold of For Your Pleasure. There on the track list are the names of a number of Roxy Music songs, from the era where it seemed they might be reinventing themselves as you were listening to them, and they’d still make something worthwhile. But there, in the record’s grooves, is something else entirely. You’d have to try really hard to equate the high-pitched punishment and squelchy microphone thrombosis in their “Pyjamarama” with the Morse code-style synth and regal acoustic guitar that opens Roxy Music’s “Pyjamarama.” Oh, but isn’t that the point? Whatever.

Those who know these artists can surmise what Russell brought to this mess – some violin, some guitar (squashed to oblivion under torrents of noise), some machines to play his instruments in an abrasive fashion for him while he goes out for a smoke – and the remnants of power electronics, teakettle whine and generally obtuse misgivings ostensibly belong to Marhaug. There is no method to the sounds they make together whatsoever, other than they have discrete lengths, and seem to stick to a predetermined path once they begin, each performer sticking to their assigned device for the duration of the tracks. Russell might hold the headstock of his guitar up against what sounds like the needle on a sewing machine gone into hyperdrive on “For Your Pleasure,” while Marhaug bangs indiscriminately on a Tibetan prayer bowl, or is that just something from his kitchen? Who’s counting? “In Every Dreamhome…” begins with a chord that might’ve been found in the song you know, organ wheezing solemnly underneath a corrosive cloud of scuzz, only to push itself outward into a thicker drone, and then be subsumed again underneath the haze of absent-minded noodling.

None of it has any personality; it seems as if Russell and Marhaug are mostly interested in having a war of volume rather than inject any nuance or depth into this work. Neither artist seems to be giving Virginia Plane anything resembling their complete attention; it’s like they had a (very loose) concept, then filled the space without much forethought or purpose, other than possibly to irritate, and the four-year span it took to create these tracks is more telling of this album being a low priority for both. Why would the listener give this any more attention than its musicians did to its creation? Were they setting out to discredit or punish Bryan Ferry and Co.? Would it have been too much of a tell to name one of these pieces “The Bogus Man”? These questions, and hundreds of thousands of others, are more interesting to think about than listening to Virginia Plane.

By Doug Mosurock

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