Noe's Lullaby is a mysterious recording in several senses of the word. Portuguese composer David Maranha has chosen to be obscure regarding instrumentation, listing the performers (a septet) but not what they're using to produce the sounds. From the aural evidence and what one can discern from past projects of his, it appears that such devices as stroked metal strings, wine glasses, harmoniums, guitars, and percussion (all with perhaps some electronic modulation) are among them. The music itself also has an air of mystery, even ritual. Difficult to pinpoint, it has something of Arnold Dreyblatt, but without the fast, intricate rhythms, staying entirely in a steady, slow tempo. On the other hand, there's more than a taste of Tony Conrad but much more rhythmically active. Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening Band comes to mind, but there's not a shred of new agey fuzziness here. The beats are sometimes hammered on metallic surfaces, buttressed by crashing cymbals, other times implied in a throbbing pulse possibly generated by string overtones, but never entirely lost. This rhythmic motif, as viscous and syrupy as it is, makes Noe's Lullaby quite approachable for ears attuned to more rock-like bands such as Godspeed You Black Emperor!. The drone aspect of the single, lengthy piece could get suffocating were it not for the care lavished on all the accompanying details, the subtle embellishments floating alongside the drones. Indeed, as the work goes on those ornaments take on an independent (though adjacent) life of their own, every bit as solid and imaginative as the underlying throb. This interplay, even tension, helps make Maranha's piece as fascinating on an intellectual level as it is luxurious on a purely sensual one.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick