MONOS – Age And Transformation + Aged And Transformed

Infraction

Darren Tate (unspecified instruments, field recordings); Colin Potter (unspecified instruments, remix)

It took six years for Monos to finalize this reissue, and indeed it was worth the wait. Age And Transformation first came out in 2004 but it still displays its currentness, warranting ear-grabbing spells to this day. Listening to it again – after Colin Potter’s enlightened re-mastering, for good measure – brought out a series of thoughts which, in turn, installed a somewhat melancholic mental climate. It all has to do with the very concept expressed by the title, coincidentally an issue that has been affecting this writer’s disposition in the last decade due to personal events that put him face to face with the physical and intellectual decay of persons met on a regular basis more often than he would have loved to.

Anyhow, let’s not allow private tints to influence the assessment of the double CD, one of Tate and Potter’s finest ever releases (and, given the consistently high level of their output, this is an ambitious statement). The way in which the former manipulates guitars and keyboards (…radios, too?) amidst the neighbourhood’s noises coming from the outside – the whole massively filtered by effects along the chain to the recorder – makes me think of how indifferently nowadays we read rave reviews for unmeritorious attempts made with sounds from the “quotidian”, the word itself having become a recent trend. Among the different ways of handling reality, Monos have chosen that of an anamorphic representation of musical shapes and environments. The sound shifts, coils and tempts the listener with its unquestionably sui generis variableness. Slacked strings, distorted chants of birds, shapeless electronic flashes, engines and flanging echoes commingle in a single organism that gives a hard time to our sense of vigilance. Streams of vague frequencies spotted with rare allusions to domestic materiality and voices from remote regions of the ether are glued together in genuinely inspiring collages.

The second disc contains a reworking of elements from the original album where Potter’s hand in the overall sonority is clearly heavier. Divided into two tracks of about 9 and 40 minutes respectively, Aged And Transformed appears as an ambiguously droning concoction of diverse components, where “drone” is a really reductive term to use in view of the many stratifications applied to the mix. This is especially valid for those segments in which pallid rays of sun manage to cut through a cloudiness apparently born from a million prayers gone to waste. The central section of “Aged” is perhaps nearer to a stifling musique concrete than anything else conceived by the duo, while large lumps of “Transformed” got me closer to Roland Kayn District, prior to stabilizing in a forbiddingly magnetic low-frequency based soundscape.

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