Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Midnight Moodswings & Seiswork - The Dopamine Recursive EP

Midnight Moodswings is, as they put it on their Facebook page "... an increment from the confusion and seclusion that "Radio for the Daydreamers" have created. Imaginary people telling imaginary stories to imaginary listeners."

Keeping up the highly enigmatic front that RftD presented, attempting to find info on "Midnight Moodswings" leads to one chasing one's tail. Is Midnight Moodswings a band or a person? I've no idea, but I suspect that RftD and MM are one and the same, as both have their cover art contributed by Fractured Fractals aka Aki Srivastava...possibly, and of course, he may even be the protagonist. Maintaining such an air of mystery can be no easy thing in this day and age of instant access to information, and that is probably the point, so I will forgive what I may have initially thought to be merely a pretentious ruse.

"Seiswork" aka Clément Parmentier (no chasing shadows there, then) is a Belgian producer and musician who has loaned his knob-twiddling, and no doubt, mouse pad abilities to the project, having already worked with RftD, and Aphex Twin amongst others. 

Of course, identity mysteries aside, what we're here for is the music...

While the name "Midnight Moodswings" sounds uncannily like a Herb Alpert album title, the music here is coming from a much darker place, as Fractured Fractals' splendid artwork attests. These sombre minimalistic vignettes of urban angst and displacement laid bare before us are best summed up by the band themselves with a quote like "The pavements are stitched together with one predicament after another", as they put it on the Bandcamp page.

With one-off lines like that it is a shame that there are no lyrics on this album, as Mr Moodswings appears to be more than capable of writing introspective and enlightening poetry if the whole passage I lifted that quotation from is anything to go by.

A weary piano motif forms the backdrop for subtle percussion and effects on opener The Floor Is, and anyone familiar with RftD's sonic palette will know what to expect, albeit bolstered by Seiswork's modernistic flourishes that serve to inform the aural canvas with some intricate and diverting details.

Hints of children's voices fleetingly swirl through A Good Place and for a brief moment optimism emerges blinking into the shrouded halflight.

The overriding instrumental backdrop to this EP is indeed minimalistic and mostly minor key piano and sometimes guitar, overlaid with ghostly electronic atmospherics, and on To Sleep I am put in mind of Robert Smith's more darkly ambient moments from the Pornography era.

It is probably intentionally ironic that dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centres, as fun seems in short supply. When You Cannot briefly lifts above the gloom to become merely melancholic, which in the context of this work is as close to upbeat as you're going to get.

Recursive of course is a word that describes the nature of stories (for example) that borrow from one another, and in that sense the themes throughout are reflecting each other. You can tell that Seiswork has collaborated with the Aphex Twin in the past from the repeated polyrhythms that appear on that same track, When You Cannot, and in other bursts of electronic percussion throughout. 

Tell The Difference has a rhythm track that sounds like it is based around the percussion of a dead-eye pool ball shot, and is really quite effective. The music in this piece reverts to the stately piano with guitar, this time joined by a bass guitar set to high treble. Overlaying this is either synth noises or treated guitar notes. The whole thing while musically simple is highly atmospheric.

As with everything here, it is best listened to with some concentration on headphones. As background music it will simply pass on by without making much impression. But, that's how I like my music; it should be there to be thought about, as well as satisfying some inner need. This is music as art, and the mystery surrounding this "band" (let's assume it is a band) is all part of the package.

Suddenly there is a voice...Between Night And Day commences with a pulpit preacher intoning through the murk "How terrible it will be for those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness", which is a Biblical quote from Isaiah. The tune itself delves even deeper into Robert Smith's history, the slightly flanged bass guitar being highly reminiscent of Faith-era Cure. Ironic that, given the Bible quote, don't you think? I almost hope it was intentional!

All in all The Dopamine Recursive is a highly atmospheric introduction to the unfathomable world of Midnight Moodswings, as we leave stage left to the sound of high pitched synth winds. Herb Alpert was never like this.

This EP is a taster for a full album, which should be worth a listen, methinks.

1. The Floor Is 5:33
2. A Good Place 3:27
3. Interlude- Numb As Numbers 2:09
4. To Sleep 4:52
5. When You Cannot 4:03
6. Interlude- Alas! Time Never Flies 2:09
7. Tell The Difference 4:52
8. Between Night And Day 3:50
9. Outro- My Problem With Daylight 2:24

Total running time - 33:25

Line up:
To paraphrase Toyah, "It's a mystery"


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