Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Super Minerals - Contacteer (Stunned Records, 2011)

American duo Super Minerals appears to have taken an idiosyncratic, exploratory approach to ambient, beginning with smeared, guitar-based drones (The Pelagics, The Vooh), dabbling with La Monte Youngian piano minimalism (Clusters) and hazy musique concrete (The Hoax). On their latest cassette, released on dearly departed label Stunned Records, they’ve taken the way of cryptic messages, bleeping their way from the distant future.
Contacteer generally follows the lo-fi, synth-based noodling path set by The Hoax, but this time it’s generally more “human”: sounds of bells and distant oriental drumming, sometimes reversed, are heard – sometimes the album turns to even more ethnic areas, with free-form, NNCK-ish tribal jamz coalesce with ominous, sustained guitar sounds known from the duo’s early albums. Each side of the cassette is divided into various, unrelated “movements” separated by short silent pauses. It seems like Super Minerals wanted to make up for the unnamed tracks of The Hoax, giving the tracks ridiculously long, post-rockish titles. If someone showed me track names like “Earth Acropolis Welcome Panacea Home: Man the Rod, Woman the Measure, and Metabolising All Their Poisons With Ease” and “Be Brave Children of the Monsoon And Rise Above the Deep Shield Like Buddah Burning Brightly on Mars”, I would have sworn these are the titles from the new Red Sparowes album. Or something by the Skaters: in fact, the Skaters comparison might be more apt both because of the medium (the cassette, that is), the somewhat lo-fi quality of the music of both bands and the genuine interest in creating sometimes extremely hazy, yet intricate sonic tapestries which gives you that “what the hell did they use to create this sound” feel.
Super Minerals rose to “fame” and made their name by creating guitar-based ambient. The Contacteer moves more towards a non-descript area somewhere between shapeless, mapless territories somewhere between a way more lo-fi Excepter and ritual psychedelicisms a’la Golden Jooklo Age. Despite the length of the cassette (it’s almost 60 minutes long), the tracks flow quickly and smoothly. There are no tiring “oh god when it’s gonna end” moments – none of the “movements” overstay their welcome and they have a perfect timing – the pieces last long enough to sink, yet not long enough to bore the listener and make them skip forward. Super Minerals also have the talent to make music with no fixed geographical “point” – unlike the FWY! album I’ve reviewed a few days ago, the music of Super Minerals gives the feeling that it could be recorded anywhere and anytime – they may be using a basic framework of ambient or psychedelic folk music, but unlike in most folk or ambient music, the sounds are not attached to a given point or feeling. Super Minerals can be listened to in almost any mood – and depending on the mood in a given moment they can be either depressing, uplifting, meditative, sometimes flat out terrifying and always fascinating.

No comments: