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Matching Mole

Canterbury Scene

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Matching Mole Smoke Signals album cover
3.20 | 30 ratings | 3 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Intro (0:44)
2. March Ides I (4:22)
3. Smoke Rings (7:51)
4. Nan True's Hole (6:00)
5. Brandy As In Benj (4:22)
6. Electric Piano Solo (1:11)
7. March Ides II (4:56)
8. Instant Pussy (2:51)
9. Smoke Signal (6:55)
10. Lything & Gracing (11:48)

Total Time: 51:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Phil Miller / guitar
- Bill MacCormick / bass
- Dave McRae / electric piano
- Robert Wyatt / drums, vocals

Releases information

Cuneiform RUNE 150

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to WiguJimbo for the last updates
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Buy MATCHING MOLE Smoke Signals Music

MATCHING MOLE Smoke Signals ratings distribution

(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MATCHING MOLE Smoke Signals reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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.

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Smoke Signals' was recorded in spring 1972 during an European tour mainly in Belgium and France. As these tapes were not planned for release the sound quality is just acceptable. A good idea so to re-create the original track order of the concerts with different sources.

'Smoke Signals' is an interesting document, because 'Matching Mole' just elaborated from a backing band for Robert Wyatt,(more or less imposed by CBS) and who had only played on one half of the first record to a real band. Most tracks appearing here were written by Dave Mc Rae and Phil Miller and would be recorded later for 'The Little Red Record'. Dave Sinclair who started the tournee with the band had left and was replaced by keyboarder Dave Mc Rae who had already guested on the first record and brought with him some fine tunes like 'March Ides' and 'Smoke Signal' presented here for the first time in a rough version.

After a band introduction by Robert the band launches into 'March Ides'.The theme is played by Phil Miller, who is soloing then over an ostinato bass line, followed by a drum solo. The second theme is 'Smoke Signal' (here re-named 'Smoke Rings), maybe the most beautiful 'Matching Mole' theme by Dave Mc Rae. The theme is then followed by a longer improvisation until the re-exposure.

The next theme 'Nan's True Hole' was written by Phil Miller, who plays an repeated riff over which Dave Mc Rae plays an improvisation followed by another drum solo. 'Brandy As In Benji' follows the same structure of expostion solo, followed by a heavily distorted e-piano solo, that launches again into the 'March Ides' theme, followed by 'Instant Pussy' the only Robert Wyatt composition from the first record, with treated vocals by Robert and an e-piano improvisation.

The 'Smoke Signal' appears again, followed by another improvisation and a bass solo and finally the band launches into 'Lything and gracing' a Phil Miller composition, that would appear only as a Hatfield leftover on 'Afters'.

A part from the fact, that the sound is not brillant the tapes miss the 'funny' side of the band and especially the Robert Wyatt lyrics, leaving a jazz rock outfit, that improvises mainly over an ostinato bass line and sometimes in a not very inspired way as on 'Lything and Gracing' which is utterly boring.Still an interesting document in the history of Matching Mole, but not recommended as a starter.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars Oh what a smoky performance!

Cuneiform label has shot two live albums titled March and Smoke Signals(this one). Both of albums were recorded on their lives in 1972, the period of as-we-can-say their peak. With listening to the two live works, I can't consider about Maching Mole without Robert Wyatt...exactly, it's maybe natural. In this album, same as in the studio, he could hit and blow audience by his strict drumming. But I feel March is stricter and clearer than Smoke Signals. (Of course, both have good atmosphere and feeling and their quality are so high.) Why can I feel so? Was their potential higher in March? Or, with a good meaning, was they relaxed with playing? God and the members of Matching Mole only know...

Whatever I can feel, this live performance was great. No suspicion.

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