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Matching Mole - March CD (album) cover


Matching Mole

Canterbury Scene

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Released by the always-excellent Cuneiform label the following year of the Smoke Signal live posthumous album, March is much better than its predecessor, if only sonically-speaking. Indeed, unlike the sonically-flawed SS release, this one is simply outstanding, and features a splendid (if a tad less fiery) performance, or should I say not quite as raw-sounding. Recorded throughout the European tour of 72, the selection of tracks chosen for this disc is also indisputable and presents a more representative facet of the Mole's works; one that resembles more what was recorded in the studio albums (if you'll except the two poppy tunes of their debut), even if the band does what it does best? it extrapolates and experiments.

Opening on cymbal brushing, joined by a fiery Frippian-styled guitar (Phil Miller was apparently subjugated by Fripp during the recording of Little Red Record), the title track shows the band in a very cosmic mood, before Wyatt gives us an outstanding vocal - well mouth-based noises ? performance (including dying-piglet screams) in the awesome Instant Pussy (a much longer version than on SS) that followed March without interval. Up next is Smoke Signals (the track, not the album), where the band is out on improvised grounds, sometime approaching a brass-less Miles-type of fusion in Bitches Brew. Part Of The Dance features that descending riff and Wyatt gives another shot at his scatting talents, which will lead into an improvised "alf" Measures. Weirdly enough The Mole chose to infiltrate Caravan's repertoire and did a wild but unconventional and instrumental cover of Waterloo Lilly (I believe Miller wasn't far away from the studio when that album was recorded) with McRae sounding much as if Sinclair was on the bass guitar.

Much more essential than the preceding Smoke Signals, this is really complementary (fortunately the track lists are fairly different too), which seems to hover the BBC sessions and concert release and the raw SS release. The only small remark I'd have against this release is that it sounds a bit too samey throughout the length of the album, but then again this MM and not KC or H&TN. Prefer March to SS, but your choice might be tougher between this one and the BBC recordings.

Report this review (#29817)
Posted Friday, April 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was happy to hear some of my old bootlegs show up on here. They sound much cleaner too! I love this release... then again, I love all Matching Mole stuff. Strong band live! I wish there were more material of them live. Wyatt's brand of drumming is super... it has all the worts you could ask for... nothing super technical but man he is stunning with the interplay of tom-toms and snare without the snare. Anyway... fantastic! Cheers.
Report this review (#29818)
Posted Wednesday, August 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's so far the only album by MATCHING MOLE I listened to and I've got to say it would be really a great and excellent jazz fusion album, there is really anything to put critics about apart only one thing, that are the strange vocals contributed by Robert Wyatt that I can't cope with. I really appreciate his work on drumming, but at least for my ears his voice is completely disturbing the great music played and annoying. Apart of this little but crucial moment it's a very good record. But I have to substract one star for this reason.
Report this review (#29820)
Posted Sunday, March 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Now MATCHING MOLE they were very talented and skilled LIVE player...I think.

Whatever you think about them, first please listen to the album. Indeed there's no voice or cheer of audience, but can you feel this session be ALIVE? At least for me, NO. What a wonderful work they could play on a stage, not in a studio! So powerful, so thrilling, and so vital and lively their play should be. As compared with Smoke Signals from CUNEIFORM Label, this live album is more wonderful and more splendid I'm sure. As honestly I say, I have been charmed the sleeve of this album and in spite of myself I bought it...but the content is more fantastic I could find. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#190229)
Posted Sunday, November 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars This was recorded during MATCHING MOLE's tour of Europe in March of 1972. It's the same lineup as that from the second album "Little Red Record" with Dave MacRae on keys instead of Dave Sinclair from the debut and the electric piano is all over this. As many know Robert Wyatt formed this band in 1971 after leaving SOFT MACHINE and i've never really felt that MATCHING MOLE's two studio albums bore any resemblance to SOFT MACHINE, but I can sure feel that SOFT MACHINE vibe on this live album. First of all every track blends into the next just the way SOFT MACHINE used to do it live, where they'd put their heads down sort of speak and play non-stop from one track to the next.The other thing that reminds me of Wyatt's former band is how experimental this sounds.This isn't that melodic and we get plenty of fuzz too. So yes this is an interesting album to own, one that reveals another side of this band that I hadn't heard before.

"March" opens with Wyatt on drums before the wicked fuzz comes in before a minute. Nasty ! Bass and keys too in this laid back and atmospheric number. Phil Miller offers up some cool guitar expressions. Such a cool track.

"Instant Pussy" is again laid back but check out Wyatt's vocal melodies and expressions. Some really out there stuff here (haha). As I mentioned earlier each track blends into the next and on "Smoke Signals" the guitar comes to the fore before 2 minutes.

"Part Of The Dance" is where the tempo picks up before a minute but it does shift often on this one. Lots of fuzz too. Angular guitar after 2 1/2 minutes and it goes on and on. Nice. Vocal expressions 6 1/2 minutes to 9 minutes then back to that earlier theme. Fantastic song !

"No "alf" Measures" has this beat with electric piano and more.Vocal expressions join in. An outburst before 5 minutes. I like the rhythm section on "Lything And Gracing" with the guitar. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes.The guitar is raw as it leads for a while. Fuzz 4 minutes in.

"Waterloo Lily" is of course a cover of that CARAVAN track. Raw guitar leads and I like the bass and drum work here too.The guitar rips it up late with dissonant keys. Big applause when it ends.

This may not appeal to fans of melodic music, but the adventeous will be turned on. I'm surprised at how much this sounds like a Jazz / Fusion record, much more than a Canterbury album to my ears. Regardless this is absolutely incredible !

Report this review (#509951)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Decent sound, but performance patchy.

This is another official live bootleg-like release of a gig in Europe in 1972, released in 2002. The sound quality is great, but the performances are decidedly mixed. I think the band took a while to warm up, as the first three tunes in particular are quite poor. The opener, March (from Little Red Record) is almost unrecognizable, but not in a good way - that is, not because they were playing around with the structure and melody, extending it beyond its usual moorings, but instead because they don't seem to be able to play it! Also, the keyboards are way too low in the mix - hearing this on the radio one would be hard-pressed to identify a keyboard at all. Of course, being a Softs fan, I like a challenge, but the two tracks that follow are again not very well played. Things pick up in the middle of the disc, however, during "Part of the Dance". The best track, and the reason for getting this album, is "No 'Alf Measures" which not only is new (not appearing on any other Matching Mole album), but is the best song/performance in this set. The last two tunes continue on with the better playing exhibited in this track, ending with an instrumental version of Caravan's "Waterloo Lily", thus ending on an up note (which probably explains some of the 4-star ratings). But overall, the performances are too mixed, and too esoteric (even compared to Matching Mole's other work), for this is to be anywhere near 4-star material. Indeed, it is probably in the larger scheme of things only of interest to pre-existing fans - if this is your introduction to MM you will get a skewed idea of the band. But it raises to 3 PA stars for me on the strength of its clean sound quality, and the stronger performances/improvisations in the second-half of the set. Overall, I rate this 5.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1698808)
Posted Sunday, March 5, 2017 | Review Permalink

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