Review: Chow Mwng – Bo Rane


Bo Rane is best described as a leakage. It’s not cathartic or antagonistic. These improvisations for acoustic guitar, voice and other have a dribbling quality to them, like a viscous liquid running out of the nostrils and bubbling at the corners of the mouth. This is what happens when the muscles slacken; when social inhibition goes floppy and allows sudden inclination to tumble out of the body.

There is little to cling onto here. The guitar jerks between single-string-zig-zags and buzzing clumps of notes, trapped in what otherwise be considered an eternal “noodling” state: wedged in the margin between silence and the solidity of composition, struck by the impulse to act but not yet succumbed to the desire to create. I catch recognisable words and structures within the stream of voice and grunts (the whispered snarl of “stupid fucking idiot” during “Giz”, for example) – brief moments where the brain snags on a familiar form or slips into a repetitious loop for a minute. It’s never long before Chow Mwng slumps back into the wordless blur of lips and tongue and teeth.

In the absence of hardened compositional shapes, I grab hold of the one structural thread that seems to hold strong: the cascade of causation. Each impulsive gesture, however bizarre, feels like an outgrowth of the last. Even those incoherent vocal monologues seem to strike upon phonetic themes, rolling around alternations of “m” and “l”, or constricting the throat to retain a continuous dry rasp. “Meat-tablet” seems to mimic the withered affection of an acoustic ballad for a few minutes, while the vocal duet of “Oft before concourse”, which I presume was recorded in a moving car, seems like a malformed parody of road rage, with the usual irrepressible anger swapped out for the idle unfurling of a mind in neutral. After all, Bo Rane wasn’t forced into life through the vigour of an emotional state. Rather, it redirects that stream of inner self-talk – that conversation we’re all having with ourselves every second of the day, regardless of our mood ­– and sends it seeping out of the mouth and hands.

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