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

(1970-1973)

Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co.

 

Progressive Electronic

4.45 | 4 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
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.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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