I’m very pleased to share the following review for the Warlock Tapes record. Dominic Valvona, the author and mastermind behind Monolith Cocktail has an incredible capacity to draw out some very deep references for his reviews. I’ll link to the full post at the end as there are some other really engaging guides to some amazing new music.
Ensemble De Cadavres Exquis ‘The Warlock Tapes’
(Submarine Broadcasting Company) 3rd March 2021
Spanning the visual and sonic, the veiled Glove Of Bones’ latest project is a riff on the Surrealist “Exquiste Corpse” parlor game; a subversive collaborative drawing exercise in which each participant added whatever subconscious extension they could dream up to a chain of hidden images; the results of which when revealed could result in the most weird of oddities. With the likes of grand doyen of the form, and way beyond, Max Ernst taking part alongside Dali and Miró you might have big bird’s plumage next to the shapely naked crossed legs of a muse and tennis racket feet.
GOB’s version is, despite a whole host of participants all adding their own unique musical thumb prints, actually quite dreamily coherent: flowing even. With a renegade circle of Bandcamp mavericks, which includes Mark Fox, Jamie Munāriz, Rutger Van Driel, Volkar Bauland, Gordon Way and many others, GOB manages to steer his own “Cadavres Exquis” experiment towards a challenging but extemporized sonic journey that has a grasp of intrigue, interest and sensibility.
If regular readers can recall, we last featured GOB with his regular foil Cousin Silasin our choice album misadventures of 2020; the duo’s alternative ethnographic reality Kafou Avalonia reimagined an atavistic shift of tectonic plates: a sort of musical equivalence of Ernst’s own amorphous, sometimes by chance, post WWI alien landscapes and plaster-cast-on-board landmasses without borders configurations. The Surrealist raison d’etre of subversion (sometimes in poor taste, and at other times truly revolutionary) seems as inspiration on that brilliant album and this one. Cousin Silas, I might add, pops up on the woozy, fugal horn suffused, cryptic Einstürzende Neubaten transmogrifying ‘Revolution No.9’ numerical reading, ‘Bone Yard 391 Plus 119’.
Throwing his dice into the ring, the omnipresence of the late cult author GeorgeCockcroft (passing away last November) is another inspiration for this project-in-lockdown. Under the pen name of Luke Rhinehart he infamously wrote the game-of-chance novel The Dice Man in 1971; a story in which the central protagonist – arguably a version of the author himself – based all life decisions on the throw of those said dice, to ever worrying, even criminal and heinous results. An enterprise of chance then, and yet seldom does The Warlock Tapes sound like a random voyage into dissonance and craziness.
Not quite “Dada Dada”, nor cosmic doolally neither, but an avant-garde matrimony of recollections, amorphous ethnic sounds, obscured prose and transformed post-punk dub. ‘March Of The Jackonapes’ has one layer of vortex blown cello sweeping across a ship’s bow, another layer of downtown NYC Arthur Russell electro-beats, a layer of Fluxus, and then one layer of dub-tronica: imagine The Orb, African Head Charge and Amorphous Androgynous. ‘Antofasto Vorahnung’ sounds like La Monte Young tuning up, and ‘Bliss And Willful Ignorance’ inter-layers hints of E.F.S. series Can with a vague Finis Africae in a primal soup wallow. Elements of neo-classical Eastern European sorrow blend with mysterious enchantments; Ash Ra Tempel and Dance Of The Lemmings era Amon Düül II with Jah Wobble aimless ghostly dub basslines; and ARP synthesized visions with John Carpenter and Tubular Bells exorcism.
Strange sonic matches indeed, yet the folded sound envelope between each imaginative rendering is blurred, softened so that at times this sounds more like a linear traverse then a unstable, jarring collision of incongruous mismatched ideas. Less a serial experiment, and more an experience in taking the listener on a surreal travelogue into the minds of its makers, which turns out to be a most inviting magical space to visit.
Read more MONOLITH COCKTAIL HERE
As of today there are three cassettes left which is a marvellous result. Cross fingers we can get a second Ensemble project together in the near future.
Thank you again to Dominic for his erudite and considered review.