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CD Feature/ Mara's Torment: "mt96061"

img  Tobias
I have a tendency of piling up and scattering promo CDs all over the place, but it was never hard finding my copy of “mt96061”. A perfect soundtrack to the night, it was always reliably lying beside my bed, patiently waiting to lead me into dreams for nights on end. What must seem like an insult with other artists is the highest attainable compliment here: The more you turn the volume down, the more you’ll hear and the sleepier you are, the merrier you’ll be.

If you end up listening to the album in short portions of three to four tracks before surrendering to the seductive embrace of slumber, then that may even make sense in a way. “mt96061”, after all, is not a regular studio album but a compilation summing up the first ten years of a project which has delicately refined its freeform formula for an entire decade under the protective cloak of Toronto’s astoundingly active experimental scene.

Mixed into a hazily recursive web of oneiric miniatures and more stretched-out, panoramic soundscapes, it presents Mara's Torment as one of the few legitimate heirs of the Ambient legacy. All structures seem to be made of fatamorganic dust, moving in elliptic orbits around fleeting notions of ephemeral ideas: Chord progressions start overlapping into themselves, creating blurry fields of harmony; skeletised beats roll on and on, until they disappear but for a pinpoint pulse on your skin; subcutaneous frictions rotate round their own axes for minutes, creating an unsettling gravitational pull.

It is this bipolar sensation of slight unease and mystery on the one hand and complete comfort and consolation on the other from which Mara's Torments draws its fascination. A piece like “Where we go to die”, with its gracefully moving Choir metaphors, psychoactive Bongo patterns and deep string sonorities seamlessly goes from subtle horror to inexplicable harmony within mere minutes, while the lush atmospherics of “Absently Gazing Out” evoke moodful memories of early Berlin school electronica. On other occasions, looped percussion fully justifies the self-description of “chilled ambient electronics” without surrendering to the spiritual void this terminology might imply.

On paper, the music seems simplistically minimal with rarely more than four tracks running at the same time. A cleverly opaque production, creating an enigmatic depth and making all pieces appear lightyears away rom the observer, turns this feat into an advantage. Without even noticing, you are being obducted, taken far beyond the enclosing walls of your room and our solar system. It is a journey without real danger and occult occurences, however: Just as much as you can be sure that the solid musical foundation of Mara's Torment steadily prevents things from turning fluff, your copy of “mt96061” will still be lying next to your bed when you wake up in the morning.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Mara's Torment

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