Membrana

Membranoids Gimpotheka

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Those who enjoy records that remind one of a long sojourn with a dentist's drill, or the sounds of rabid munchkins eating uncooked stereo equipment that is still plugged into the wall, will probably want to live with this recording for a long time. It is one of two volumes supposedly compiling recordings associated with a Russian cultural movement or organization, or something full of membranes called Membrana. One of the enjoyable aspects of this collection is the liner note information, much of which can't really be taken seriously. "Unique audio document taken from the papers of the seminar on fumigation" is about as detailed as it gets in terms of descriptive notes, and there are no individuals seriously taking credit for any of this mayhem by providing their names. (The second volume in this series actually provides some names of people supposedly involved in live recording, but these seem to be phony names as well.) The inevitable result is not really knowing who is doing what here, or why, but the off-the-wall explanations involving descriptions of madmen in laboratories, creation of artificial life, and all manner of strange activities are quite frankly much more interesting than the usual round of philosophizing by music critics or the artists themselves. Still, nothing related to the sheer creativity involved in this project can change the fact that long sections of the music just aren't really that interesting to listen to, relating to the same advice classical record producer R. Peter Munves gave Lou Reed after hearing the latter artist's moronic "Metal Machine Music": "Have you ever thought about composition lessons?" One of the biggest problems is the reliance on turntables as a sound source. Although letting a record skip or dragging the needle across the surface repeatedly creates more weird sounding music faster, and with much less effort, than playing a real instrument, the rhythms which result from the skipping sound of the needle are not what one would call fascinatingly complex; when little effort is made to change the sound, or provide much-needed variety, the listening becomes quite monotonous. There are tracks, however, where the music's creators seem to be trying somewhat harder, or simply to find a level of inspiration which allows the element of surprise not to be lost through repetition, drawing the listener into a world of sound that is frantic and unflinchingly weird.

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