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Matching Mole - Smoke Signals CD (album) cover


Matching Mole


Canterbury Scene

3.16 | 25 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Cuneiform is really one of the more precious labels around for coming up with new unreleased material from old bands. With this release, the sound is not all that good and one should prefer the previous label release March, as it sounds much better and offers some different songs or pieces from the same tour. One might get the impression from this album that MM was very different live than in the studios. For one thing, in concert aside Wyatt's orgasm on Instant Pussy and a few other scatting improvisations (the latter not present on this release), the sets are instrumental fusion numbers that point at which directions all future Canterbury-related bands will go at. One might consider that Hatfield', Gilgamesh, National Health are direct descendants from these live sounds.

For years I was pulled aback of this album because of the rawness of the performance and harsh sounds and sometimes poor recording quality, and even nowadays, I don't spin this one much, only partly so because I don't own it. Part of my gripe about this set (outside the flawed or weaker recorded passages) is that McCormick's bass is mixed in too loud (I'm tried to be bassist, so I rarely quibble with an overly-loud bass, but here, it hinders a bit the overall group performance. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing catastrophic about SS, but much better is to come. Most of the sonically "iffy" tracks are concentrated at the start of the album, and the latter ones are simply better mixed.

The album starts with some French-speaking band announcement, before jumping like nutcases in a first part of March Ides, which then leads into a drum solo that supposedly opened Smoke Rings. Nan's True Hole has a definite Crimson paw (Lark's era), showing that Miller was so quite impressed by Fripp's presence that it transpired into his composition. The second march Ides instalment is probably my fave from the album, an hypnotic descending riff, where McRae's Rhodes smokes, then leading to a short Instant Pussy orgasm. A wild title track and a poor-sounding Lything version finish the set.

Definitely rawer and less qualitative in the sonic department than its successor March, it's actually weird that the album didn't get a reversed order of release, as this one would appear as the left-over or bottom-of-drawer (well so to speak) of the March release. So again nothing scandalous, but first delve onto the other Cuneiform release, and see if you want to indulge more, and if so, you'll find plenty of guilty pleasures here, including an excellent liner note from Calyx-man Aymeric Leroy.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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