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CD Feature/ The Missing Ensemble: "Zeropolis"

img  Tobias

Experimental music and rock n roll are really not that different: Just when you thought that you had heard it all before, an album comes and blows you away. To many, the Missing Ensemble’s first disc, “Hidden Doors” was such an album: Three open-minded musicians from all corners of the musical spectrum and a shared love for drones, three illustrious guests among whom noise fetishist Masami Akita aka Merzbow and four lucidly realised musical ideas made for a cocktail that had many reviewers panting for breath. Hot on the heels of that debut comes “Zeropolis” – and seems to make true on all the promises given on the previous effort.

Now there will be many claiming that this can hardly be a surprise and that the mix of composers making up this project basically implied a sort of underground supergroup: On the other hand, the different personas of its members could just as well have torn it apart: Mathias Delplanque’s solo oeuvre already swings between the bass-heavy wonders of dub and reduced sound art, so adding drone-desciple Daniel de los Santos and John Sellekaers, who brings experience in soundtracks to the group opens the doors wide to arbitary cross-over concepts. That is not how things have turned out, however. This is a focussed and inwardly closed affair, it takes the listener through various scenes and moods without changing its vocabulary. Apparently, there is a common ground for all members and interestingly, it lies outside of the spaces occupied by their individual releases. “Zeropolis” is 100% abstract and does its job completely without melodies, harmonic progressions, rhythms, hooks or linear structures. The sixteen minutes of opening track “Old York” encapsulate everything the trio is currently about: A direct and confronting sound and a recognisable style between subtle field recordings, microscopic clicks, dark ambient backdrops and piercing pads inside a piece that appears to be fading away at halftime, only to come back with a haunting second part. “Attaining Pt. 1” meanwhile leans on sterterous horn blowings in the overtone region, its tectonics shofting slowly and hardly noticeable, while “La suspension ethereenne” is a cool light-bulb in a completely dark room. The arrangements are open and transparent, yet the overall tone is one of estrangement and foreignness – and you’re drawn into it just like the characters of a horror movie always follow the most dangerous leads.

The craftmanship on display here has certainly played an important part in the album’s impact. Delplanque, de los Santos and Sellekaers know the strenghts of their sounds in and out and intuitively keep the knob fiddling to an absolute minimum, which makes “Zeropolis” a solemn and stern affair. At the same time, the delicate allusions to other genres lend it a spaceousness and a feel of “anything could happen”. What it certainly demonstrates once again is that experimental music, just like rock n roll, should never exclusively rely on the intelligence of machines but will always profit from the interaction between different individuals.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: The Missing Ensemble
Homepage: Low Impedance Recordings

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