Artist: The Musk-rat Cult
Title: The Black And White Album
Catalog #: SIRO104
Keywords: Psychedelic Drone Ambient, Experimental, Electronic
The Musk-rat Cult is a shadowy organization out of Västerås, Sweden led by its mysterious bearded leader who is also behind the project OSIS and perhaps a few others. His dark, bushy beard tells of his infinite travels through time, space, and lands of which we cannot even dream, and he has translated this knowledge into psychedelic drone ambient rituals centered around the ultimate and oldest dichotomy: that of black and white. In true drone fashion, the seven pieces that make up this almost-fifty-minute full length are based around simplistic repeated phrases, muted held tones, and lots of echo. Spacey, subtle, and often rather sparse, these tracks are not so much songs as slowly unfolding emotions. A wise, fully-bearded sage, the leader of the acolyte Musk-rats has found an existence outside of our common reality from where he can examine the infinite cycle of creation and demise, then turn those discoveries into electronic instrumental movements. He has also found capitalization to be beneath the glory of his bushy beard. Take the track “bleedthrough (the highway),” for example, where noises similar to robotic cats mewl on for near thirteen minutes while muted synth tones stretch on into the vastness. Not only has the mysterious leader captured the musical ability of robo-cats, but has managed to jam with the mysterious creatures, forging a new musical dialogue between our species. However, if the rare interaction with robo-cats is too much for your puny mortal mind, there is plenty of other tonal exploration on this collection as well. The three tracks following “bleedthrough,” I must confess, are my favorite. Starting with “sanatorium under the sign of the hourglass (cinnamon shops I),” moving on to “claustrophobia (procardia),” then ending with the near-twelve-minute “the streets of crocodiles (cinnamon shops II),” the triptych has a cool jazzy quality to it, with layered, rambling melodies composed of multiple electric voices (including electric saxophone, echoed digital piano, and others) rolling over noise-based drones. Free, floating, and eerie, these three works sound like a small jazz combo at the edge of space, a zero-gravity groove that undulates. This layered sound returns again on the closer “apoptosis (fin de siecle),” but it is much more ominous, as if something went wrong with the ship and all the combo could do was play on as they drift into the blackness. At times too far beyond my mere mortal understanding, while at others speaking to my tastes perfectly, The Musk-rat Cult has seen the edges of infinity and documented this journey on The Black And White Album – the beard does not lie.