Why does this seem like a western? I wonder, headphones on full savoring “Dragon Tree” the intense theme that, like a palindrome, begins and later ends Dark Energy, debut álbum rising from the entente between pioneer no-waver Mark Cunningham and Murnau b., a Catalan trio that in their own releases combine song narrative and structure with sonic excursions, fruit of their penchant for exploring the use and expressive possibilities of rock instruments.
Their offspring is Blood Quartet. An ideal appellation for music that, like our reddish tissue, is connective and self-renewing, mixing semi-solid elements with formal structures in a brief explosive liquid of improvisation. A name which even more relevantly alludes to its human traits. The warmth of blood as feeling and gesture in a group who transmit a veiled, not always manifest, energy charge.
Those more familiar with Cunningham’s Barcelona phase, will note that the album begins in style: his classic trumpet multiplied by delays that surge amongst electric tension, in a piece whose bases whirl between sky and earth, neither fixed nor unbound.. More gripping is the serpentine “String Theory”, an open experimental rock structure laced with jazz phrasing, Lluis Rueda’s Evol style guitar detonations and the colouring of Candid Coll’s dynamo beats. Then the glue of Kike Bela’s singing bass, whose deep buzz lends a stoner edge to “Gravity Pull”. This is notoriously more playful work than the short-circuited abstract interactions of Mark’s previous group, Bèstia Ferida, his initial return to a more electric sound after the perpetuum mobile percussion of Don King and the Fourth world latitudes of Raeo or Convolution.
Looking back on his career and the already surprising bite of Bèstia Ferida, it’s even more unexpected to find him playing guitar here in several pieces, practically his first public approach to six strings in close to four decades.
Using a down tuned 60s semi-acoustic Danelectro, dating from the last days of Mars brief but legendary career, his style is restless and obsessive, as in the title tune or the metal tinged “Rare Doom 7” that in moments of charging fury generate into a martial mash of low frequencies. In pure no wave style, wielding rock instruments but without rock pretensions: the textures, tom toms, cymbals and sound expression all more important than the riffs, solos, hey hey heys, and hierarchy of 4/4.
“Dark Energy” oscillates between an inner dialogue and an outer cry, expressing in its thirty minute journey the angst of urban ennui with a psychedelic flow, using the pulse of blood to stream the balance of perception through our internal circuits. As in its cover, a drawing by Mark from the early seventies superimposed on a painting by Silvia Mestres, this album radiates fire and peace, urgency and calm.
Digital edition on Jacquard Recs and HangTheDjRecords & limited cassette edition (Boston Pizza Records) coming May 25th.
Text: Victor Ginesta
released April 29, 2015
Released by Jacquard Recs / HangTheDjRecords / Boston Pizza Records, 2015.
1. Dragon Tree2. String Theory3. Dark Energy4. Gravity Pull5. Luminesce6. Rare Doom 77. Dragon Tree Reprise
Recorded in Mármoles Artísticos (Sabadell) by Albert "Coco" Freixas
Mixed in Lluerna A/V, Barcelona by Mark Cunningham and Iban Rodríguez Mastered by Nikita Kamenskiy in Moscow
Designed by Frederic NavarroArtwork by Mark Cunningham and Silvia Mestres (Barcelona, 2015)
Mark Cunningham: guitar, trumpet
Lluís Rueda: guitar
Kike Bela: bass
Càndid Coll: drums
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