MY CAT IS AN ALIEN – “Il Segno” LP (Starlight Furniture Co.)
I am sure that all of the feline afflicted amongst us have
shared the sentiment that My Cat Is An Alien at some point but if in fact
it was true, "Il Segno" could quite possibly be what was passing
through the accursed alien's mind at the time. The ability to improvise
is a sign of intelligence, the odd movements here suggesting a culture
based on tennets of delicate osmosis and ringlet compression, a resulting
sliding sound much larger than its apparent dimensions. So if you
I should note that as an affirmed vinyl hater my listening copy is of the CDR variety and so I have had the benefit of an uninterrupted 32 minute listening session (the rest of you will get some exercise strutting to the record player to flip the slab over). The two sides then are evenly split into contiguous sessions, no track markers or pauses in the proceedings. According to the liner notes these tracks are straight up with no post production funny business to remove blemishes, get rid of grey nose hair or increase bust sizes. If that's true, might I suggest you make your next vacation include a stop in Torino, Italy as this shit be sporting a most hypnotic beauty that reminds you to look up and enjoy the sunset while you sip from your acidic Pelegrino. That fact that it's a clean take just all the more impressive.
Although they are rare over all, the vocal components definitely add some distinct aspects to its identity. When the creepy European man unexpectedly steps out from around the corner your heart stumbles a few beats and you instantly become suspicious of your surroundings. It's initially friendly like the waving little green man from Moonsanto but you are never quiet sure if your surprise visitor is harmless crazy or so incoming car crash bonkers that it would be wise to move closer to the door.
The music here struts about in a few main areas. Acoustic instruments including a few stringed something or others and very much pitter-pat percussion are tangled up in a dronish fashion that suggests a surprisingly calm hybrid of Mandragora dirty hippy noise and outsider tinkering by the likes of Noggin. The difference here though is that it feels like these peeps are on their medication more than off and even when freaking out the loose wires are never so much exposed as folded into acoustical origami. These improve aspects meet with up with a post-rock scented rosy ambience which could just as easily be the intro to a cheerful Beequeen melody as an excerpt from a beautiful Aiden Baker introspection.
I expect that those of you hearing this release on vinyl
will find a few of clickier sounds a little frustrating, phantom vinyl
imperfections causing to you get a little excessive with the stylus
I really am quite taken with this Starlight Furniture Company
effort. As droning improv installations go, this one is top notch and
I definitely wonder whether the Aiden Baker recordings I have been
MY CAT IS AN ALIEN – “The first flame of tomorrow” CD-R (Opax)
Improvisation as a compositional approach is a bit like a delicate system of weights and counterbalances which is always in danger of collapsing under its own weight. Too much ego or self-introspectiveness and suddenly you are Yngwie Malmsteen autographing his own penis while bragging about his wicked tan. With restraint and honest enthusiasm balanced just right however the rush of riding no hands on the precipice is a hard one to resist, both for the viewer and instigator. My Cat Is An Alien must have been born with an exceptionally sensitive inner ear as the full length on offer here barely ever tightens its grip let alone come close to falling to its untimely death while screaming for mommy.
Our Houdini-esque subject "The First Flame of Tomorrow" is presented as a single monolithic session, my only significant complaint. At nearly 70 minutes it's just plain bad manners not to offer at least a little paging between major movements. It's the aural equivalent of offering the 4+ hour special edition of "Return Of The King" with but a single chapter index and guarantees that the first 10 minutes or so of the recording will get worn out prematurely. Bad mastering person, bad!
Formatting complaints aside, the sound quality is quite respectable for a live improv session (minidisc presumably). Instrumentation includes the usual semi-acoustic sounding guitar droning plus an assortment of toys straight out of some Hong Kong bizzare. The electronics range from sounding completely bent, repainted and sold on Ebay to more conventional pedalisms (sampling delay for example). Percussion varies a but is mostly Sears special drumkit though like everything else, it's played more like an absent minded professor trying to remember an obscure formula by tapping it out phonetically on the nearest flat surface than what one conventionally associates with the role of "drums".
The set as a whole takes the form of a sneaky meandering itch that is half Aube developmental subtlety and half Mandragora freakout (minus the dreadlocks and dust). Sometimes the itch disappears under a short pile delay loop of noise and you momentarily cease to be aware of it. A little fret slide tickle here, toy gun zap tweak there, reverb ricochet off of brushed cymbal until the next thing you know you've scratched the shit out of yourself to the point of bleeding. Regardless, you continue to follow the irritation with your nails because it is so pleasurable to relieve.
My Cat Is An Alien is the sort of soundtrack your life could
have as default. Space enough to breathe, enough grit so as not to slip
and not so unnaturally clean as to make you feel like an unwanted visitor.
Other than the fact you need listen to the whole damn thing unless you
have a fetish for holding down the fast forward button, there ain't much
not to like for fans of incidental improv. Good stuff.