Review: Muddersten – Karpatklokke

SOFA555_frontHere’s how I imagine this one playing out. Three improvisers take an off-road shortcut on their way to a recording session. There’s a bump in the road. The back door of the van flies open. All of the instruments – guitar, tuba, synthesiser, tape machine, assorted objects – tumble out and land in the most gruesome swamp imaginable. The band manage to salvage everything, but it’s touch and go whether anything is still playable. Everything is clogged with mud and compounded forest gunk; it clogs the tuba valves, crusts over buttons and electronics, clings to the mechanisms and stifles the motors. A lesser band may have called it a day. Muddersten push on to the studio.

I sense that their original vision was a soundtrack to a Martian terraform attempt. Electronics shimmer like crimson lakes, guitars whimper like congregating alien bugs, static gushes from the hydraulic shafts of spacecraft landing stabilisers. It’s a bubbling, gurgling exoplanetary ecosystem, full of textures I part-recognise as either organic life or sci-fi astral technology. Yet in the wake of this fictitious swamp accident, the sounds are choked out and chopped up; drones splutter through blocked airways, tubas purr through phlegm, electronics malfunction and doggedly revive themselves as the circuitry blinks in and out of life. Instruments crackle and squelch like insects crawling through snot, temperamental and laboured in movement, driven by an assortment of instrumental grunts and respiratory wheezes.

An alternate analogy is the experience of waking up in a state of sudden sickness. Many of the noises remind me having a dehydrated mouth in the morning, clacking as the tongue unsticks from the teeth and the palate. The drones – guttural tubas, blurred electronics – curdle into a duet of headache and sinus congestion, while the general clatter of life starts to feel smothering and intrusive and totally unnecessary, pressing inward and downward from all sides, ranging from someone flicking plastic straws to the dreadful scrape of dry cloths against dry window panes. I’m squeezed into a state of nauseated paralysis. It should be wholly unpleasant to wallow in this material. For some perverse and incomprehensible reason, it’s actually rather wonderful.