Sunday, April 27, 2008
Dolphins Into the Future - Voyage Series Pt. 2 (Self Released CD-R)
Here's another one I snagged at the Skaters show. This was the one act I hadn't heard anything about going into the night, but when the time came Alex Murphy--update: not Alex Murphy but Lieven Martens, my bad...--sure showed everyone there what they were missing out on. Sitting at a table all dignified like, the guy, armed with a few tape machines, some loop machines/sampling keyboards, and maybe a few other trinkets, created the weirdest little world of repeating echolocation wails and bobbing row boat rhythms. sometimes he'd just let the whole thing sit for a minute before reaching back down to grab one of about fifty tapes lying on the floor. Half were white and half were black, and I assume that meant something but me thinks that's for the Dolphin's eyes only. Needless to say, the whole thing was enticing enough to snag the only thing he had available, a cheapo unlabeled CD in a clear case with a picture and track listing inside (sorry, the bag and CD created too much glare for the photo, so you only get the ocean scene). Believe it or not, this was the fanciest item there aside from Ferraro's girlfriend's thing.
The track listing on the back suggests that the album chronicles some kind of journey, albeit one that starts on Day 7 and is followed by Day 4. Must be how come it's part of the voyage series, no? If this is a trip though, it seems more like one inside the ol' noggin than out on the roaring seas. Track one truly follows the rhythms (or shall we say riddims?) of the waves as long hollow buoy sounds bounce against each other inadvertently. A funny little whistle riff repeats overhead as the aforementioned wails of large undersea mammals beckon immensities into the overall creation.
After the first nine minute excursion (the longest on the album), the whole thing settles into a kind of trance inducing pace, as if all of nature, including that seashell necklace you're wearing, has for a moment united into one strange, hobbling rhythmic structure of aimless shimmer. Not to over do the ocean metaphors, but it all sounds as if your floating on your back over some rainbow colored coral reef, only you're looking at your back from below and the light's shining through the water and everything is all glisteny. Only sometimes you remember just how deep it gets, or you run into some strange crustacean that reminds you that this is a much more complex realm than it feels. Really beautiful stuff, minimal stuff, not far off from something like Eno's "The Big Ship," especially on tracks six and seven, which at the heart of the album really represent the potential that this guy has. Track seven could serve as some kind of underwater Mario level, except its far too ethereal and intricately balanced for that.
Murphy's trick is to never let too much happen, and even the kalimba and other percussive elements are used in such a way so as to completely intertwine themselves with the back porch lulling that the whole thing suggests. Not one organ note or tape sample sounds out of place from the whole of each miniature piece, most of which clock in at no more than three minutes. Hell, half of them are under a minute, like taking a really close peak at one reef shrimp or sting ray before swimming on.
Really, all of this kind of demeans the effectiveness of the album. The whole thing is deeply intricate and well constructed, and in a world where people too often try to blow you away Murphy clearly is confident enough in the sound he's after that he'll take his time getting you there. That said, this would be the soundtrack to my yacht trip through the Great Barrier Reef. I know the water metaphors are tedious, espeically what with the project being called Dolphins Into the Future and all, but really, find it and listen. The whole thing is echoey underwater stuff, part Cousteau score, part island jam, part field recording (only really, none of the above). I don't know where to find this, or whether or not the Voyage Series even has a first part, but it's a journey I'd like to continue, straight on into the deep. Flippers required.
Check out his myspace for more info. Added bonus: killer psychedelic Alf art work on it. Worth the price of admission alone.