Painting Petals On Planet Ghost - "s/t" LP (Time-Lag Records)
From the moment I tore open the cardboard mailer I
was gone. Such seems to be the case when you receive anything from Time-Lag
Records. You hold something heavy and beautiful in your hands. The vinyl
is thick like a slab of beef, a fine cut. You can smell how clean and
pure it is. Then you take notice of the stunning packaging, In this case
each sleeve is hand done, “printed with copper ink on exquisite
& massively thick handmade ivory art paper, each sheet cast one at
a time & air dried.” Most importantly though, is the music.
Painting Petals on Planet Ghost is the inaugural voyage of the My Cat
is An Alien brothers Roberto and Maurizio Opalio plus the vocals of Ramona
Ponzini. She delicately intones Japanese text over faint and delicate
music’s. This album shows, if for some reason you were worried,
that MCIAA are no one trick pony. Whether electric or acoustic, the music
here is deliciously paced and almost fragile, as if the whole thing were
made of glass. The sounds are both somber and delirious as they gradually
unwind. The sounds are made of acoustic guitar, tape loops, mystical percussion
and of course, Ponzini’s voice. I can just imagine these sounds
wafting down off the Western Alps in Italy, where this music was recorded.
Surreal fantasies begin to form as I think about it. This album deserves
a full-length review’s worth of appreciation for its otherworldly
beauty but I am humbled by the record and can find no more words to do
From where do the Opalio brothers come? I know, Italy. Technically. But I mean, Where? Personally, I think Sun Ra and Eliane Radigue passionately conceived these two children during brief, undocumented encounters in Italy some years ago. Do I have any proof of this? Nothing concrete, but I’m certainly not ruling it out. As the interplanetary group My Cat Is An Alien, the brothers Oplaio are one of the more prolific groups around. Between legit, full-length LP’s + CD’s, countless CD-R’s, and a quite pricey split LP series, all limited and done in artist editions with wooden, hand crafted packaging, these guys make Acid Mothers Temple look like they’re on vacation.
I’d hardly feel confident saying that this is their latest release (with their prolific nature and the fact that I’ve been sitting on it for a few weeks) but it’s damn recent. Last Visible Dog, unflinching champions of all music alien and skin crawling and/or mysterious, have stepped up to the plate and hit us with this 3 CD set. Part’s 1 and 2 of The Cosmological Eye Trilogy were previously released in crazy limited CD-R editions and Part 3 is brand new for all. Presented for the first time in its entirety, the Cosmological Eye Trilogy is a gargantuan tribute to the farthest reaches of the universe. As is often the case, MCIAA play without a net, no overdubs or outtakes here. Each disc is a paean to a different galaxy and the booklet contains historical info about the discovery of each.
Disc 1, dedicated to the “Sleeping Beauty” galaxy, was recorded in 2000. MCIAA are masterful with their patience. They will carry a section of a song for as long as they feel it takes to get the point. The main portion of this disc is a 55-minute space meditation. With a mix of 1950’s sci-fi space movie-type sounds and legitimate, heavy-duty sound construction, they’ve created the perfect soundtrack for traveling light years. We all know that space is silent, but what’s the fun in that? These are outer space sounds. If anything, this sounds like a tribute to distance and realms of the unknown. Papa Sun Ra would be proud; these cuts are truly “Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy”. Plutonium percussion and electric alien guitar drones combine to create a soundscape like nothing I’ve ever heard. What at first comes off as more of the same for MCIAA (remember, they’re quite prolific) reveals itself, with a little bit of attention, to be quite an accomplishment. It’s magical, mysterious and dreamy; 19 million light years worth of dreams.
Disc 2, an ode to the Sombrero Galaxy, recorded in 2003, features three lengthy pieces of galaxy hopping fuzz-drone. While the concept is the same through much of MCIAA’s work, the finest pieces are quite unique and this trilogy is no different. The musical tributes presented here are as different as the galaxies themselves. The Sombrero Galaxy gets a stronger emphasis on percussion. Even where the astral guitar drones ride forefront, these pieces carry a sense of urgency. The tunes here operate as a mirror to the often dreamy, luminous passages of the first volume. Track three, “The Trifid Nebula” is an electrified, space-dust gallop. The Opalio brothers are surely wired into something different than most.
Disc 3 is where we get the previously unreleased third part of the trilogy, songs for the Whirlpool Galaxy. According to the data included, The Whirlpool Gallaxy is the most distant of the galaxies paid tribute here. And rightfully so, the music laid here is the most far-out of the set. Understated and actually sounding like they were transmitted from 31 million light years away, the two cuts on Disc 3 are eerie. Short-wave radios crackling in the cold, immeasurably distant sounds reconstituted mysteriously…this is the sound track of no turning back. The alien and astral guitar drones are as mind-altering and masterly controlled as anything they’ve done. MCIAA have captured the feeling of distance and solitude and the sound of chilling, ridiculous cold. This is simultaneously what it sounds like at the center of an iceberg and on the dark side of the most distant moon. We are at the outer reaches….
In closing, I leave with you with a request from the band in the liner notes, one that I couldn’t agree with more:
MCIAA ask you to play the whole set extremely loud, in order
to enter the deepest core of the Cosmos!