Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Artist: MCKMN (@)
Title: Orphan Ristophe
Format: CD
Label: Mockmoon Records (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Right off the bat, I found this project intriguing. In fact, it was the first CD I opened and played when I received the latest batch to review. My first impressions were mostly positive, but I decided not to rush into anything and give it some time, so I put it on the back burner for a bit. Whether the project is called MCKMN, or Mockmoon I guess doesn’t make too much of a difference. It’s the music of Dutch artist Terence Koot and I think it’s his first effort. For some reason stuff I’ve heard coming out of the Netherlands lately has been pretty interesting, and maybe there is a musical renaissance brewing in the land of tulips, van Gogh and good weed.

My initial impression of MCKMN’s "Orphan Ritophe" was that it has a progressive bent, and my impression didn’t change after a few listenings. It is an instrumental album with a cinematic flavor. Koot constructs tracks that could easily be used in movie scores or computer games. I was most impressed with the flow of the pieces, the way they moved naturally with a certain continuity. The layering is full and rich without being cluttered, engaging without being overwhelming, dramatic where it needs to be, and laid back when appropriate. These are all the marks of a talented composer who has a good handle on his craft. While many who attempt this style of music often draw too much from the Delerium school of composition, MCKMN’s influences seem to be more drawn from film composers like Hans Zimmer, Graeme Revell, Howard Shore, Paul Haslinger, Marco Beltrami, etc. I’m not say he’s in a league with those guys yet, but it seems to be where MCKMN is heading.

I like the moods displayed on "Orphan Ritophe". They’re a bit on the dark side without coming across as morbid, dreary, depressing or apocalyptic. The percussion programming is great, even if the mix hasn’t been perfected yet. The track "Ganymede" conveys a lot of motion; perhaps a hunt, or flying over some exotic terrain in a helicopter while riders on horseback below chase their quarry. The title track which follows utilizes electric guitar to build atmosphere, and morphs into almost a koto-like sound to give an oriental flavor. When the soaring lead kicks in, you just get goosebumps. Koot’s tempered use of strings also seems to be an indication that he has a movie in his mind when he composed these tracks. "The Great White Open" uses a haunting vocal loop to set its mood then morphs into a jazzy horn thing followed by a sparse guitar melody, all underscored by driving percussion. For the most part, the tracks are episodic; something you will find in most film scores, but there is also a cohesivness and consistency on this album that you won’t find in a lot of film scores owing to the nature of the variety of scenes that must be composed for.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most impressive new releases I have heard in a long time. I’m an electronic musician, but I doubt I could come up with anything this good even of I threw another 10k into studio gear and devoted 90% of my time to making music. "Orphan Ritophe" is really "The Bomb" and the only improvement that might be able to be made on it is in the production department. Some elements didn’t sound as bright or defined as I would have liked. But hey, this guy is only 26 years old, and this effort is head and shoulders above most of the stuff I get to review. There is a depth and maturity here that takes many musician/composers a decade or more to reach. Mark my words, if Mr. Koot gets the right breaks, you’re going to hear his music on some game, or as the soundtrack to some movie in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I’d recommend this album as a STRONG BUY, because it’s that damn good.


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