My Cat Is An Alien - "…Ascends the Sky"
CD (Rebis / Whitened Sepulchre)
Whitened Sepulchre is a new sub-label of Rebis Productions,
an imprint curated by none other than Chicago's high-orbit drone kings,
Number None. The main vision for Whitened Sepulchre is, according to the
Rebis website, "dedicated to reissuing and preserving key recordings
of the New Electronic Sublime." That's some pretty heavy territory
these boys are treading - and they've started out on the right foot; the
first WS release is an early recording from Italy's favourite rocketeers
My Cat is an Alien. "Ascends the Sky" was originally released
as a limited run CD-R on the band's own Opax Records and came housed in
wooden sleeves, hand-painted by Roberto Opalio himself. Roberto and his
brother Maurizio together create the cosmic incantations credited to MCIAA.
Painting Petals On Planet Ghost is a new project featuring space feline brothers, Maurizio & Roberto Opalio, and their longtime partner-in-crime, Ramona Ponzini. Ponzini also appeared on a duo album with Roberto last year, Praxinoscope. With that in mind, don't expect this to sound like My Cat is an Alien with an extra collaborator. No, Painting Petals on Planet Ghost traverses new ground, staying away from the extended splendid cosmic explorations that MCIAA have become known for.
Make no mistake about it, Ponzini is the shining star here. Her tentative, beautiful voice is like a beacon leading the brothers, like moths to a lamp, toward their destiny. Unless you're fluent in Japanese, you're not likely to have any idea what Ponzini is singing. As she recites various Japanese poems, the Opalio brothers paint an aural backdrop of loneliness and desolation. These songs are like the last will and testament of someone stranded in the middle of nowhere. This is their message in a bottle.
Most haunting is "Haru No Hi Ni." The Opalio's solemn acoustic guitar plucks reek of desperation. Hearing it over and over again, I feel like someone is ripping my heart from my chest. Ponzini's voice floats above the surface, doing its best to stay on top of the wreckage. Each note is like a tiny dagger filled with the worst kind of poison. Simplicity is the best weapon here, and the trio absolutely nails it. This is one of the year's best songs, hands down.
Elsewhere on this record, the backing instrumentation is even more minimal, but still works. The opener, "Sakura No Hana No Oto Ga Kikoeru," features little more than the gentle clanging of chromatic percussion underneath Ponzini's incantations. And at the beginning of the closing piece, "Sakurabana," the trio returns to this format. As it moves forward, the brothers add melancholy drones with (what I think is) an antique accordian. The dichotomy of this and the percussion at the beginning only adds to the longing in the piece. It settles itself right into your bones.
Painting Petals on Planet Ghost shows the Opalio brothers
in top form. The addition of Ramona Ponzini adds an entirely new dimension
to their sonic attack. The subtleties of this record are what make it
so great. Well, that and the fact that Ponzini's vocals are completely
mesmerizing. Add to that the typically beautiful Time-Lag packaging, and
you've got something essential on your hands. I can only hope that this
project will be back with more sometime down the road. Painting Petals
on Planet Ghost debut is absolute magic.
My Cat Is an Alien - "The Cosmological Eye
Trilogy" 3CD set (Last Visible Dog)
My Cat is an Alien are one of the most prolific bands on the planet. These enigmatic Italians often inspire extreme emotions in music fans. Either you love them or you hate them. I've yet to meet somebody who sort of likes them or is kind of the into them. Everyone I've had conversations with about My Cat is an Alien falls squarely into one of those two camps. But I think that's a good thing and shows that the Opalio brothers are doing something right.
With so many releases to choose from, it's hard to know where to begin for those unfamiliar with MCIAA's spacephoric jams. Thankfully, our friends at Last Visible Dog have solved that problem with an intergalactic bang. "The Cosmological Eye Trilogy" is three CDs and almost 3 1/2 hours of music. If it sounds intimidating, it is. But once you look this monster straight in the face, you'll be well rewarded for your efforts.
From the beginning of "The Cosmological Eye Introduction" on disc one to "The Orion Nebula" on disc three, your brain is replaced with stardust. The vast spaces traversed on these recordings is mind blowing. The only other group that utilizes empty space as an instrument in-and-of itself this well is Charalambides. It's like some sort of aural personification of the kinetic energy that exists between Roberto and Maurizio Opalio. For lack of a better word, it's dazzling. Everytime their stellar soundwaves emanate from my speakers, I'm like a moth to a lightbulb. I zone out and am completely entranced by this music. Hushed beeps and glacial guitar drones do me in everytime. Add in various other cosmic debris like reverb-soaked vocal howls, cymbal bursts, and various other space toys and MCIAA stretch out toward the horizon like varicose veins to the sun.
There is so much music here that it's monolithic.
But there is much beauty to be found in the "The Cosmological Eye
Trilogy." My Cat is an Alien are determined to take you on a journey
through the darkest corners and deepest crevices of the galaxy. This is
PRAXINOSCOPE - "s/t" CD-R (2005/ Opax Records)
Oklahoma is full of open spaces and windswept plains. People
often underestimate how much beauty there is in these simplistic landscapes.
The majesty is derived from the serenity. My favorite moments driving
from St. Louis back to Tulsa is the transition from the Ozark hills of
Missouri to the endless open spaces, covered in green grass and wildflowers,
that dominate Eastern Oklahoma. It's magical to me and ridiculously inspiring.
MY CAT IS AN ALIEN - "Different shades of blue" CD-R (U-Sound Archive, Vol.19)
Volume 19 of Tom Greenwood’s U-sound Archive is another
bout of glittering jewels, sputtering star systems and piercing high drones
courtesy of your favourite astral-obsessed Italian duo. Consisting of
a single track clocking in at almost fifty minutes, this is a recording
of an improvisation at the MCIIA “Space Room” in Torino, and
features the usual gamut of massively effected guitars, “Uranian
percussions”, toy instruments and probably just toys added on top.
ROBERTO OPALIO - "Chants from isolated ghosts" CD-R/ lathe-cut LP (Opax Records)
Roberto Opalio forms one-half of the Italian dynamic duo,
My Cat is an Alien. To say that MCIAA has become one of my absolute favorite
groups in the past few months is a bit of an understatement. During the
past year or so, a period in which the duo has released a mountain of
space magic, Opalio also found the time to put together a solo album that
stands up to any of MCIAA's best works.
MY CAT IS AN ALIEN - "Through the reflex of the rain" CD (Free Porcupine Society)
Hailing from the beautiful confines of Torino, Italy, the
experimental-brother duo of Maurizio and Roberto Opalio, My Cat is an
Alien, offer up a thick slab of spaced out treachery on their latest CD
release from San Francisco's Free Porcupine Society. My Cat is an Alien
have morphed and tweaked their sound over the years to reach the pinnacle
of blissed out catatonia. "Through the Reflex of Rain" consists
of one 40 minute excursion through the depths of space and into the core
of the earth.
VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Time and relative dimensions in space" CD (Rebis)
[...] My Cat is an Alien have stolen my soul over the past
few months. Something about their cosmic jams infects me, and the wonderful
"Alien Substratum 1.0/1.2" is now different. Spiralling electric
guitar flashes dangle above a pulsing drone that is just barely audible.
This is the music of the stars, singing out and surrendering. If I'm ever
abducted, I hope it sounds like this. I can't believe it took me so long
to jump on the MCIAA bandwagon, but now I'm never getting off.[...]
VARIOUS ARTISTS - "The Tone of the Universe (= The Tone of the Earth)" CD (Pseudoarcana)
[...] the compilation’s conclusion: My Cat Is An Alien
performing their well-established whirring clustered raygun drones with
space echoes and controlled feedback, a repeated loop of a human voice
amongst the ether and distant bleeps and bloops from forgotten satellites,
lost and drifting further away, perhaps towards the source of this great
Bb drone which resonates at some 57 octaves below tones discernable to
the human ear.[...]
JACKIE-O MOTHERFUCKER/ MY CAT IS AN ALIEN - "From the earth to the Spheres, vol.3" split ART-LP (Opax Records)/ CD (Very Friendly/Cargo UK)
Over the years, Jackie-o Motherfucker (JOMF) has carved
a niche for themselves seamlessly blending musical expressions as diverse
as avant garde and free jazz and Appalachian folk. There may be others
that play with the same elements, but few that result in such a distinctive
sound. Despite the breadth of influences, the band always manages to develop
coherent improvisations from the various strands.
THURSTON MOORE/MY CAT IS AN ALIEN - "From The
Earth To The Spheres, Vol. 1"
Thurston Moore has been a long time fan of the amazing Italian My Cat Is An Alien duo and after having played gigs together and released some of their out of print records on his own Ecstatic Peace label it’s logical that they team up for a split release. This is the first release in a new series of split releases entitled "From the Earth to the Spheres" and you might as well want to grab volume 2 right away as it besides MCIAA also includes the of transcendental sounds of the amazing San Francisco quartet Thuja.
But let’s head back to the two epic tracks on this
album. Moore is first out with “American Coffin”, which kicks
off with a wild, avant-gardish section that features equal parts fragmented
piano, weird sonic collages and shards of guitar feedback. I have to say
that the slightly Stockhausen-esque introduction initially puzzles more
than it pleases but the further in we get the more sense it makes. And
the closing minutes are just pure piano bliss that provides an almost
perfect abstract mood of reverie and a slightly melancholic foundation
that MCIAA can build their track from. That being said, it’s not
really obvious when the first track moves into the next, and that’s
a great compliment given how different they in terms of sonic structure.
Just like the title of the track (“Brilliance in the Outer Space”)
may indicate, we get to see a close-up of a sound sculpture that evolves
slowly and explores the sonic depth of minimal guitar textures in a very
impressive way. It shimmers, drones and pulsates through its 21 minutes
of dense ambient fog and more structured noise. The mood is mostly subdued
though with guitar notes dropping like cosmic rain into a whirlpool of
black wind and exploding in multiple directions simultaneously. “Brilliance
in the Outer Space” seems to dictate its own space; by the time
it’s over the track seems to have simultaneously begun and ended.