Friday, January 13, 2012

Merzouga - Mekong Morning Glory

Merzouga - Mekong Morning Glory
Gruenrekorder. Gruen 092. CD + Booklet

Mekong Morning Glory is a 49 minute journey in which the duo that is Merzouga transport the listener along the Mekong River taking in gentle wind chimes, screeching exotic birds and the sound of the Mekong itself emptying into the South China Sea. Its a delightful listen that is a relaxing as it is rewarding and made all the more so by the knowledge that the duo took their 2008 field recordings back to the studio in Cologne and mixed in prepared electronic bass [Jano Hanushevsky] and electronic sounds [Eva Pöppelin]. Pöppelin also takes on the producing duties and her results are a sonic adventurers delight.

Pöppelin has to take credit for the way in which she has matched the field recordings to the work done in the studio. Taught bass strings plucked like pizzicato violins are a match for the sounds of flocks of birds taking off, water fowl squawks could be electronic glitches, crowing cocks sit cheek by jowl with the haunting riff pulled from a two note bass string. When children’s voices appear the bass notes drop a tone and if you’d have told me I was in the midst of an Industrial Ambient release I wouldn’t have argued.

The journey unfolds at such an elegiac pace that I found it hard to sit through this release without nodding off and if you think this is being dismissive then you are wrong. In the space of about ten days I have played this every single night and without fail I’ve succumbed to its soporific charms. Upon waking I found myself at various stops along the way and it was as if I were being treated to some new found conflagration of bass pluck, torrential rain, children’s voices, whimpering dogs, waterfalls … 

Its at about the half hour mark that Merzouga eventually encounter mass civilization and the field recordings capture this; outboard motors, mopeds, Hari Krishnas, floating markets, the sound of chopping, crowds, conversations, traffic cop whistles, car horns, Vietnamese pop, people jumping in the river and when the wind chimes reemerge to the sound of the gushing sea you know your journey is at an end.

I was mesmerized by Mekong Morning Glory in a way that I haven’t felt by a piece of music for a long time. I may be a tad behind the times here but the way in which the natural world and the recording studio have combined here is a sheer delight. For the patient listener its rewards are immense.

Gruenrekorder have encouraged me to listen to a number of their other releases which are available for download and even though I’m no big fan of downloads I’ve been so overwhelmed by Mekong Morning Glory that I feel that to ignore them would be a grave mistake.


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