Review – “Totenbaum Trager/ Projet Muet” – Totenbaum Trager/ Projet Muet

Reviewed by Jack Derricourt

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Arachnidiscs have done a fantastic job with their new release of Dominic Marion’s Totenbaum Trager/ Projet Muet split. The two projects are different journeys taken by the same traveller down a road of sublime surroundings. Horns, bells, droning guitars, and all things improvised create a compelling pattern over the course of the split release’s five tracks.

The tape begins with the hypnotic, guitar-laden material of Totenbaum Trager. The aeolian harp is alive and kicking with “Western Wind,” the opening track of the album. Lounge Lizards and rock afficianadoes will find things to adore in this sparse musical construction, that pushes things wide open with its nearly sixteen minute run time. “Hung to Sarah Kane’s Shoelace” follows with an entirely guitar-based structure and sound. The atmosphere created by Marion is at its most raw in this, his most basic piece.

Listeners will find it easy to lose themselves in the minimalist, choral effects of the guitar work on the album’s first half. The Projet Muet material, a trio’s love affair with free jazz and industrial, tweeting sounds, may be a different challenge for the audience altogether. On “Prévision pour un projet muet,” the tension builds through vibrating fuzz, long horn tones, and the smattering of bells, creating a sharp edge for the rest of the cassette’s sounds to be set teetering upon. “Madspook’s Doppleganger” follows close behind, sheltering ghostly tones and provocative vibrations of guitar noise. It’s tempting to say that all the Projet Muet material could be one long song of woe, but there’s something more complicated to these three pieces. The final composition, “Dragging a Dead Tree Up the Hill,” demonstrates a complexity of mood and colour that sends the album off with greater dimensions. A confusion of bells opens the piece, at once both beautiful and intoxicating, to be put into conversation with animal calls as produced by the saxophone and guitar; the progression feels entirely organic, and resounds with satisfying resolution.

Dominic Marion’s variety of work on the new Arachnidics release is impressive. Not only can he provoke the ears of the listener with a guitar and an ebow, he can draw deeper emotions out through arrangements of improvisation shared between disparate instruments. It sounds like a simple admission, but, listening to the album, these minimalist pieces are revealing and tender in a way that many musical pieces will never be. Disturbing at times, drawn out with a deliberate desire to stretch the attention span of the listener, yes, but every minute of music on the split release is inspiring and refreshing.

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

Top Tracks: “Western Wind” ; “Dragging a Dead Tree Up the Hill”

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