Miriodor — Signal 9
(Cuneiform Rune 438, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-08-19
Yes, this is indeed the ninth Miriodor studio album, coming three decades after their first and four years after the previous effort, Cobra Fakir. Signal 9 finds the band in the quartet arrangement that has lasted since just after Cobra Fakir: Pascal Globensky (keyboards), Rémi Leclerc (drums), Bernard Falaise (guitar), and Nicolas Lessard (bass). The addition of Lessard seems to have steered the band in a more energetic direction, with his rhythmic (sometimes almost funky) bass lines locking in with Leclerc’s drums and providing a groove to many tracks in spite of the shifting rhythmic structures and often crazy melodies that make up the pieces. There are sections where the band gets into a groove and rides it for a couple of minutes, and at other times they’ll throw out ideas rapid-fire, jumping from one to another like indecisive squirrels running from tree to tree. “Portrait-robot” is one of my favorite tracks, and exhibits the band’s strengths admirably. It starts with an insistent unison riff on bass and guitar while odd synth noises bounce around, then adds organ chords to gradually build up the intensity almost like a post-rock epic. By the time they’re two minutes in, they’re thrashing away with punkish abandon and there’s a wild synthesizer line wiggling around on top. Then it all comes to a crashing halt and we’re left with indistinct ambient noises, from which a Mellotron choir emerges amidst distorted analog synth noises. This leads into a section that could almost pass for Änglagård, with a heavy plodding beat and prominent Mellotron chords. Then there’s a quirky circus-like part with the sounds of a cheering crowd, followed by a faster tempo section that builds up again and features dissonant chords. It ends with a long fade to nothingness. In addition to longer tracks like “Portrait-robot,” there are a number of short vignettes, some collages of sounds, others more composed and performed. There are too many highlights to cover in a review — suffice it to say that Signal 9 stands comfortably among Miriodor’s best releases, and is a sure bet for the year’s best list.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.