Within music as part of a bigger artistic and creative spectrum, hindsight is a huge deal. Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, Dylan going electric and Jodorowsky looking directly into the camera at the end of The Holy Mountain all got noticed at the time. But the intervening time between when they happened and today has given us a sense of their significance. They became defining moments on varying scales.
So looking back into the labyrinthine network of unknown music from the past is in a way almost more interesting than hearing new music. Music that bared its soul to the world, is possibly celebrated as something of enormous significance by the select few. The impact of these missing pieces actually requires a rewrite of lower-case history or at least applause for the isolated spot of creative originality they mapped out. Yet another page of Discogs that exists independently of your previous knowledge
All of which leads me to THE NEXT by MAAT. I had no idea about the artist or the music but based on the output and billing given by the label, news of its imminent release had me hooked instantaneously. Pacific City Sound Visions is the label of Spencer Clarke whose own work under a dizzying array of names has had me magnetised for years. Monopoly Child Star Searchers, Fourth World Magazine and Typhonian Highlife are all drawing on aspects of a very deep and very bizarre well.
MAAT is the third in a thoughtfully chosen line of re-issues following the fogged up drone pop of Vox Populi Half Dead Ganga Music and Frank Dommert’s tape warping KEIFERMUSIK. MAAT is the work of Dörte Marth and THE NEXT is a selection of tracks from her Sie and Konstruktionen albums both from 1993. From the outset, it’s clearly a showcase of huge textural differences mapped out in variety of strange rhythmic passages.
The disc opens with Krypt, a stuttering crab walk rhythm that feels like a blueprint for Three Legged Race’s Persuasive Barrier. She paints an edgy Eno tinged nocturne with a buried vocal shifting between word and instrumentation. These two pieces feel like odd miniatures as the next piece, Sie builds out an insistent loop over which a double bass, piano and percussion mimic and mesh. Conlon Nancarrow’s machine music playing metronomic jazz. Shaku and Monoton close side one with a sense of Far East night air, again with tight rhythmic looping.
The spaciousness of side A is immediately crowded out with the side B opener Duster which wheezes into life out of morphed processed strings. And Sphare feels like an alien fanfare with otherworldly brass punctuating the groove. The album begins to feel like an exploration of odd marriages. Single sounds and simple groupings thrown into strange dynamic patterns. It’s also clear that the music has been given a thoughtful sequence by Clarke, meaning the album slowly moves towards a fuller sound from skeletal beginnings.
The whole album peaks in the penultimate track Kurz Davor having successfully retuned your ears and brain into Marth’s oddly magnetic sound world. This track builds around a twisting 3 dimensional figure in the midst of a drifting textural haze. Slowly the background comes forward revealing the music’s internal structure. Almost 5 minutes that could go on for days… The album closes with The Next which zones in on strange metallic pulsing and electronic tweeting before folding in on itself.
At a concise 40 minutes, THE NEXT as a whole is a strangely listenable and hugely weird record. It occupies a seemingly seldom-visited nether region between ambience and mechanisation. Quite what the world made of these recordings back in the early 90’s is anyone’s guess. Perhaps like Nuno Canvarro’s Plux Quba, THE NEXT is another significant piece of the jigsaw many were previously unaware was missing. Fascinating stuff…