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CD Feature/ Graham Bowers: "Of Mary's Blood"

img  Tobias

Can music really spark something new inside the listener? It is an interesting and somehow disappointing fact that the apostles of innovation have always concentrated on the outward view and on connotational factors – while music doesn’t, in fact, exist, anywhere but in the ear of the beholder. The question should be awarded renewed interest as Graham Bowers has returned to the scene after a lengthy, health-related, absence and his back catalogue is available once again. While on the surface of things, there is nothing previously unheard on the tryptich of “Mary’s Blood”, “Transgression” and “Eternal Ghosts”, it is its profound effect on the psyche, that makes it truly unique.

As a metter of fact, when this album came out almost exactly ten years ago, it looked like experimental music had a new figurehead. There was not one mag in the scene that could afford itself the luxury of not featuring it and all that did were hard pressed to put their feelings into words. Which is easy to understand. Still today, “Of Mary’s Blood”, a three-quarters of an hour long trip into Bower’s head, leaves one baffled and awestruck. Divided into three segments, “Always was”, “Always is” and “Always shall be”, this composition sails away on a wing and a whisper into an unsettling “terra incognita”: A greyish drone, like the wind intermittantly touching a cymbal, greets the listener, as do the sounds of cars speeding by and of a railway crossing in the glaring heat. Thick machine sounds build up, a street scene on a blue-skied afternoon, frenzied voices and wailing noises dissolve into almost joungle-like atmospheres and suddenly, after almost ten minutes, there is this this melody full of sorrow and despair, that braces itself like a cloud of dust over the smouldering embers of a pitch-black apocalyptic scrap yard. There is an open middle part, which leaves the mind to wander, until a finale with clustered chords by an untuned piano and bizarre orchestral samples take control again. Even the extracts on Bower’s homepage can only hint at what to expect here, which may well be a reason why, even despite the raving reviews, this was not exactly an instant smash-hit. But the difference between the often random and somehow caricaturesque offerings by some post-industrial sound artists and this flowing, seamless composition without an ounce of slack and a gripping compulsion could not be more apparent.

Of course it’s Dark Ambient, Drones, the Avantgarde, Free Jazz, Industrial, Cut-Up and Electronica all blended into one, all-encompassing cross-over spectacular. But then again, it’s none of these as well. A decidedly different and superior machine has emerged from the red-hot smelter, testing and twitching its half-human, half-machinoid muscles in avid anticipation. The mind can only take you to so many places and it is music like “Of Mary’s Blood” that extend the limits of your creativity to unknown hights.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Graham Bowers/ Red Wharf Records

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