| reviews | The Cosmological Eye Trilogy
Awarded as BEST 2005 ANTHOLOGY by
FOXY DIGITALIS MAGAZINE (USA)
"As 2005 went on, I became a bigger and bigger My Cat is an Alien fan. This Italian brother-duo are cosmic travellers, giving us earthlings a taste of stellar dust. This 3 CD set is absolutely essential. A pile of music to reach the summit of Olympus Mons, missing this would be an absolute crime." (Brad Rose, 2005 charts, Foxy Digitalis editor-in-chief)
** by Brad Rose, Editor-in-Chief,
Foxy Digitalis, USA
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 essential music.-
** by Adam Richards | 2006-01-18 , Indieworkshop, USA
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!
** by Jeff Siegel, 2005-12-16, Stylus Magazine, USA
I really enjoy the phrase “space music.” It's one of those great open-ended descriptors, like “post-rock,” or “jazz fusion” or “synergistic” that sounds completely specific, but for which no one seems to have a handy real-world definition, because there isn't one. Space music. Like the sound of planets whooshing by, or galaxies colliding like some super-massive billiard break, or the glorious destruction of a supernova. Awesome. Too bad space is a vacuum in which sound can't travel, because that would make the coolest box-set ever. Of course, if you were the world's biggest nerd, perhaps you could transcribe the mathematics of space into tones and waves and pulses and crashing-about. It would likely turn out sounding something like The Cosmological Eye Trilogy.
My Cat Is an Alien are two brothers, Maurizio and Roberto Opalio of Turin, where Jesus died. In addition to being musicians of the abstract-improv fashion that unleashes piles of limited-run CD-Rs every year, they're also both painters and installation artists. Their obsession with space and science fiction and alien life is boundless; their other-media work is just as huge, monolithic, and single-minded as their countless records, mostly released on the small-time by their own label Opax (note all the “not available”s), complete with hand-made “space art” packaging that's actually quite lovely in a minimalist, arts-and-crafts way. The first two volumes—the longest sprawls here—were individually self-released (as in, they released themselves), with the third and final reserved for this set, along with something like an hour-and-a-half of additional material spread over every disc, for a total run time of about three-and-a-half hours.
And that, my little Sputniks, is a lot of space art. And really, on paper its contents read kind of like microwave instructions, so let me put it a different way. Dig: If we were able to watch the universe from a bird's eye view while traveling back in time, we could watch as our ever-expanding universe slowly contracts, as our galaxies grow denser and closer together, and as the radiation builds and light increases in speed, the whole thing heats up, and heats up, and contracts down to just a single, critically dense speck in an endless, yawning void. I know that isn't exactly a description of a sound, but when these guys take the tiniest-possible set of sounds and stretch out the tiniest-possible set of mutations, additions, and subtractions over spans of an hour, you can really only start to describe it in terms of space-time and light years. I can't stress enough the alien-ness of this sound, even within the dark-matter float of drone music. This isn't the recognizable found-sound style much loved by the Finns (Uton, Es), or the almost verbal density of those freaky Kiwis (Birchville Cat Motel, Ashtray Navigations). This is proper minimalism, the art of LaMonte Young; only while Young longed desperately for a trance-state, MCIAA start in one and work from there.
You can't say they don't warn you right off the bat. The first part of the trilogy, “Into the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy,” begins in a fog of oscillators and soft guitar pings. For 15 minutes, they wrap around each other, keeping a steady rhythm. Then a single bass note ticks away regularly, then irregularly, counting off slices of time that only fleetingly resemble human timekeeping, while slabs of static rub against each other like tectonic plates, and disembodied voices describe the edges. These changes in tone and structure—assuming these elements weren't in place the whole time and just out of range—don't announce themselves, but simply filter in, until they're right on top of you. With its few, carefully chosen parts, it's the sort of minimalism that makes shocks out of the tiniest gestures. When they engage in pure noise, as they do on parts of “In the Sombrero Galaxy,” the high pitched whine rides in and out like a crushing wave, alternately in some sort of harmony with its spine of pink-noise feed, and borderline intolerable. This is a difficult record to love, or even like, in any traditional sense, but it does have its gut thrills, and commands a certain kind of respect.
Like most minimalism, it's all about the duration; listening on as the near-imperceptible ebb and flow wafts by. Which means those short tracks that have been tacked on for this release seem to sort of miss the point. And like most noise, it's about the experience, about that very physical impact that piles of noises, pleasant or less so, can bring. I have a hard time recommending this to someone who hasn't been down a few alien roads before, and God help you if you decide to get through the whole thing in one sitting. But so much of it is so staggering, so mesmerizing, and makes music on its own terms so definitely, that it has a certain menacing, willfully unpretty, and monolithic grandeur, like some intractable slab of rock, or a vast, empty desert. Wouldn't want to live there, but I could stare at it for a good long time.