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CD Feature/ Brendan Murray: "Wonders Never Cease"

img  Tobias

What do words like “live” or “studio” mean in a time, when you can bring your studio to the stage and prepare an improvisation as meticulously as an account arranges his disc each morning? The funny thing is that they actually do mean something, if only that you can not burn the walls of cigarette smoke, the adrenalin pumping through the ventilation shafts, the sweat and naked nerves of a concert to a Compact Disc. A strong case for trying nevertheless, “Wonders never cease” comes pretty close to the real thing.

It’s right from the very first note that you can feel your hands clasping the back of your chair and your pulse rising. Murray operates with hash noise and drones, a seldomly used combination but one which works miraculously well. “Hymn One” is the well-chosen name for the opening showcase. A piercing beam of light as if taken from a sparking grinder at dusk takes center stage, until blankets of warm harmonics cool the fire, ease the synapses and lead you into dreamland. Over the entire course of the album, the contrasts and rough edges between open and seemingly unmanipulated field recordings and dense layers of soothing sound are left to fetter, allowing them to find a new equilibrium by their own accord. It is exactly this refusal of interfering with the inherent qualities of his source material, which makes Murray’s music so energetic and immediately recognisable. His pieces take their time, yet have a certain kind of urgency and of poignancy, never leaving the confines of the earthly to drift off into space. Raw and unpolished, they are the delta-blues version of drone music. If you can get away with a transition from a brutally mutilated acid bath of industrial distortions to the REM dillusions of a harmonica dancing with an old clock, before entering a room filled with the sweetest of organ chords underneath the shrillest of radio scrambles without looking like a freak, there must be something special going on.

It all sounds highly immediate and culled from the moment. In reality it was naturally assembled during four long years, using live recordings as a source and then fine-tuning them to the max within the safe confinements of the studio environment just like an accountant would arrange his desk each morning. But be it as it may, it is not the method that counts, but the result and “Wonders never cease” may not be a concert album by name, but certainly in spirit. And sometimes, if you close your eyes, you can even smell the smoke and taste the adrenalin on the tip of your tongue.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Brendan Murray
Homepage: Intransitive Recordings

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