Music Reviews

Artist: Murmer (@)
Title: What Are The Roots That Clutch
Format: CD
Label: The Helen Scarsdale Agency (@)
Rated: *****
A certain alternance of natural sounds and silence characterizes the hallucinated and enigmatic poem The Waste Land by T.S.Eliot, which has been quoted not only through the title (whereas the talented English satirist Evelyn Waugh opted for the last line to entitle one of his best novel "A Handful Of Dust", this American sound artist chose the first line, "What are the roots that clutch..." of the same stanza ending the first section of the poem "The Burial Of The Dead"), but also by the structure of this interesting sonic collage of field recordings, divided into five parts (just like Eliot's poem), and its tesseras, which remind some moments of one of the most favorite reading of many brainiacs, so that this sensorial interpretation by Patrick McGinley aka Murmer cast upon the multitude of interpretations and essays, which had been written about that writing. For instance the shuffle of steps over brushwood, the disorienting croaks of frogs, the rusting of leaves, the crackling of burning firewood as well as the underlying buzzing tone, which could remind "that sound high in the air/Murmur of maternal lamentation" mentioned in "What The Thunder Said", the last section of the poem (the definitive proof of its good make could be the slap I gave to the right headphone when a mosquito "appeared" in the sonic space...), in the first part evoke the feeling of confusion of the first part of the poem as well as some notorious references to Dante Alighieri, one of the known source of inspiration for Eliot, likewise the sonic collage of the fifth track which remind many words of the above-mentioned fifth section before the speaking of the thunder - "There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home./It has no windows, and the door swings,/Dry bones can harm no one./Only a cock stood on the rooftree/Co co rico co co rico/In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust/Bringing rain" - and according to a bizarre alchemy, some words from the second part "A Game Of Chess" ("'What is that noise?' The wind under the door. 'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'") seems to refer by sheer coincidence to some biographical lines which deeply influenced the sonic research of this globetrotter, who started his collection of sounds all over the world - there are many found sounds, live room feedbacks and field recordings mainly grabbed while hiking out in wild places of Northern Normandy, Estonia and Finland - after listening to a cavernous tone broadcasting from a ventilator duct in Paris.

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