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Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. - (1970-1973) CD (album) cover


Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co.

Progressive Electronic

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars MM was initially but indirectly born from a meeting with synth creator Robert Moog and Ithaca (upstate NY) music student David Borden on his return from a Berlin music grant-holder studies. Apparently, R Moog used Borden as a sort of guinea pig for his future Moog synth that would change the face of music during the early 70's. Through a series of event (via a Cornell Univ teaching job), Doctor Mallard came to be as a duo and was named after Borden's grandma. Using a prototype of the Moog (courtesy of the creator) and other types of avant-garde electronics techniques, Borden and Steve Drews started playing live in spring 70 and inspiring on Walter Carlos and John Cage, Terry Riley and other minimalist works. The following year, they were joined by Linda Fisher and her electric piano and the band built their own studio in some village nearby their centre of gravity the following year.

From what I understand none of their early music committed to tape were ever released at the time. Once not being a habit, Cuneiform released these early works in 99 in the form of 'archives', but with no liner notes. The opening Ceres Motion is the only Drews composition and is one of the later pieces included on this archive disc. It starts very calmly and slowly builds inertia and momentum, with the help of his partners and loops built very pleasant soundscapes with sequencer rhythms that Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze would develop a few years later. The repetitive and hypnotic nature of their music that evolves gradually but permanently makes this kind of aural pleasure very hard to resist, but its abrupt end is somewhat unsettling, leaving you with a taste of unfinished business. Up next, the much less accessible Cloudscape For Peggy starts on cosmic Moog noises, and we're hovering around the Zeit or Atem TD soundscapes era.

The 12-mins piece Music is a bit of a WTF moments with Fisher's vocals (albeit short-lived) topping a very upbeat and almost pop-y piece; by this time (72), the mini-moog was out and indeed dominates the track. The short Train piece (still almost 7-mins) is another Drews composition, but it sticks aurally close to Cloudscape (same sessions most likely), and is darkly cosmic, slightly nightmarish. The almost-20-mins closing Easter also dates from the Robert Moog's Trumansburg installations, and is probably the weirder and most experimental track on this disc. This over-the- top build-up of twisted quagmires of sonic drools and rants will crash your sanity against the wall of incomprehension if your third ear is not sufficiently developed.

Yet another impeccable and essential archive recording from Feigelbaum's label, though uncharacteristically it doesn't feature much additional historical details. If you're in electronic music, certainly this belongs in the most-visited shelf.

Report this review (#1198755)
Posted Thursday, June 26, 2014 | Review Permalink

A masterful journey through the possible universes of electronic music.

Box-sets, if not by rule, usually worry less for quality in composition, in favour of recording-dates or availability (or rarity) of the material. So it is kind of normal to approach them as historic "antiques" that no matter what, have to be respected because of that solely. Therefore in that regard they tend to be quiet unfriendly.

Opposite to that, there are flawless compilations, which by luck, fate or accident, are true to the spirit of audiophiles, more than historians. And of course there are also, if scarce, those compilations that achieve both. They are not only pure delight to listen to, but also master degree classes on the subject. This incredible Box-Set belongs to the latter.

There is no single piece in this "MOTHER MALLARD'S PORTABLE MASTERPIECE CO. - (1970-1973)" which could not offspring by itself, the creative electronic language of future projects or musicians, right now in 2014!. Every piece, even if influenced in its time of creation by contemporary musicians, becomes transmuted to the point of offering in return, to those same "influences", future possible material, which by then, they were not even imagining!

David Borden should stand somehow as the "prophet" who was able to carry Robert Moog's vision to reality, for the joy of us prog/electonic and electronic-music followers.

Yes!, This is not an "average" prog/audiophiles wish come true ( no guitars or solos, no weird time signatures nor drums, no front-men preaching (or singing as you call it), etc. etc...) . This Box-Set, therefore could hardly be thought of as "prog/universal" appealing (I mean, in this category the top band, has 1/4 of the ratings of the most mediocre Rush album!). BUT for followers of this sub-genre, it is a "sin" to miss it , and to to those I address!

*****5 complete PA stars, and still missing some!

Thanks to PA reviewer Sean Trane for this recommendaion!

Report this review (#1199478)
Posted Sunday, June 29, 2014 | Review Permalink


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