Tom Hamilton

Analogue Smoque

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

Strange and deranged, no matter from what angle you look at it, Analogue Smoque offers a disconcerting journey through the essence of surrealism. Your guide is Mike Silverton, editor of LaFolia.com. He reads his prose poetry in a low, pleasant, articulate, and extremely classy voice, throwing one short piece after another. He speaks of vanishing iconoclasts, of a "Giant Mango in the Confessional" (the title of one piece), and of underdogs, the latter topic turning up more than once, thus providing a mock macrostructure to this collage. Despite the presence of 15 tracks, Analogue Smoque actually runs like one continuous 100-minute work (split over two discs). A specific track doesn't relate to any particular microstructure. It can contain more than one poem or start in the middle of one. The musical accompaniment, provided by Al Margolis (aka If, Bwana) and Tom Hamilton, bears little to no relation to the words. Often, they refrain from playing, sometime for long stretches. When they do, they provide twisted backdrops of analog electronics, treated sounds, and field recordings. The lack of relationship between words and music works marvelously well -- in fact, any tighter structure would have suffocated the Dadaist spirit of the project. You just have to accept it and let yourself be surprised. Since the mind focuses on the words (already a challenge to follow), the music becomes a secondary feature, although in some places (as in "A Cozy Place by the Crevasse") it can steal your attention for a disorienting moment. As a spoken word piece, Analogue Smoque would be the antithesis of Erik Belgum's carefully arranged works. But you may prefer to approach it as the strangest book on tape you'll ever hear.

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