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Reviews
A Minority Of One - Live Collection 2006-07
Sunday, February 15 2009 @ 07:30 AM PST
Contributed by: Henry Lauer

Live Collection 2006-07

Artist: A Minority Of One United States

Title: Live Collection 2006-07

Label: Self Released

Genre: Experimental/ Ambient/ Ritualistic/ Noise

Track Listing:

Disc One

01 Woodseedstoneskin
02 AMO1 – A Call To Action
03 Coursing
04 Bowlsung
05 Work Makes Free
06 Anahata
07 Peat Fire Flame
08 Ur Odin

Disc Two

01 Lungs – Breath
02 Work Makes Free
03 Anahata
04 Gnawer From Beneath

-

The first thing I notice about this release is the incredible leather-bound presentation; hand made, a marvellous and unique outfit for a remarkable and unique double CD. But this is only one of fifty in existence! So if you are tempted by what you read here you had better contact the band quickly and offer them lots of money. If you miss out – well some consolation can be found in the knowledge that they have a new studio album coming any day now.

These recordings are taken from a number of performances, but are laid out together in a very organic fashion so that for the most part each disc feels like a coherent and wonderfully flowing performance set. The album opens with the hubbub of the audience and this is a very atmospheric way to invite us in.

What follows is… difficult to explain. A barrage of drones, strange found percussion, loops, modified instruments (the bowed electric bass being my personal favourite), all manner of tribal and unconventional percussion, flute, samples and a flock of varied and powerful vocals.

Often the sounds are completely alien – you can only speculate on what exactly is being played. The CD art has some live performance photographs and it is clear that this band employs a bizarre melange of both found and modified instruments.

As the album unfolds the music evolves very smoothly from one state to the next and the shifts are powerfully subliminal. It’s a devastating trick and causes one’s consciousness to stretch, contort and shape-shift with abandon.

Raw and wild, the music careens in stately fashion from one multiverse to the next, yet it always feels like a brilliance is guiding the arrangements and compositions. A deranged but masterful vision coaxes the helm of this wild and beastly ship on its voyage through the cosmos.

The atmosphere is deep and palpable. In many respects it conjures the sense of some being of incredible size and consciousness, some Ur-Mensch from the dawn of time, awakening and allowing us to journey through its vast consciousness. This is Jotun music in the best possible way, the primal natural beings from which all other life sprung.

The pinnacle of the album breaks over us in crashing waves, and we are blessed to be visited by two versions of this track – Anahata. I took a lot of notes on this piece, which is somewhat different in each version because AMO1 are something of an improvisational beast on stage. I pondered whether to dwell on this song too much, but I think it deserves the attention, so here it is.

The drones and oscillations like speech, a long and gorgeous poem of transformation, love, loss and dreaming. Singing bowls duet with song birds. Somehow we are still, this far into the album, on the brink of the creation of the world. In the distance our audience murmurs, like the gods presiding over this impossible actuality.

Woodwinds coil and drift, chimes sing golden songs. If this moment does not suspend a scintillating serpent along your spine… then you are deaf or dead.

And then the moment turns, as a woman speaks, almost chanting, telling a story that could be anything, any story, any time, a creation myth that truly begins to flower with the invocation "sky below and earth above… the road broke open into a great chasm".

Our (because its hard not to feel one with that murmuring audience) ears are enslaved as pure, soaring female vocals duet with flute, as banks of delay gather up the tones and set them against themselves, unfolding into rich treasuries of consonance and dissonance.

We are taken, we the mythic audience, taken. It sounds a little like some of the choral compositions from

The grandeur slowly tails away into the bedrock of drones, the flute and a single melody that remains of the vocals, tender and mournful. And so we are drawn into the heart of all Being.

2001: A Space Odyssey. We are swept beyond as male vocals join the armoury of tonality than engulfs, expanding, the first detonation of being, the fragmentation of One into Many recapitulating itself in this unfolding choral drama.

This is perhaps poeticising somewhat, but certainly not exaggerating.

Special mention needs to be made of the percussive loops, which lurch sickeningly towards being out of time, yet somehow always make it back in. It makes me feel drunk – in a good way (and the galloping horse that makes several appearances has to be heard, just has to be!)

The first time I heard this album I was in a car driving through a forest. Sunlight spilling, dappled, through leaves often induces very magical states of consciousness for me; in combination with this album I was in paroxysms. Had Winston Smith’s minority essence been as deeply rooted as AMO1’s then he would not have broken as he did.

If Tibetan Buddhism, the really gnarled old stuff, had been indoctrinated into the worship of the Great Old Ones, then apprenticed to an adept of Woden and finally forged in the icy flames of the cosmic birth… then it would have produced A Minority Of One.

Of course, this is not exactly AMO1’s lineage but the birth certificate of this band, laid bare by these live recordings, is written in the rich gore of all existence and blazes with a dark and magnificent light all of its own.

     


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