Jon Mueller: Tongues (LP, Rhythmplex, May 2016)

You may want to be sitting down for this one. Right from the start of the A-side (the 15-minute long How You Look When You’re Not Looking) we’re thrown into some seriously heavy ritualistic shit. According to the liner notes, Mueller “conceived” this (it’s hard to believe that it’s scored) and plays bass drums, voice, and percussion; the great Cory Allen plays harmonium, tanpura, and “ceremonial breath”; and William Ryan Fritch plays a sarangi using a prepared piano as a sounding board… as you do. Overall, the effect is of dense, swirling layers of chanting, droning, “huh”ing, tribal-sounding drumming, and droning. It’s really powerful, and really good. The B-side (the 19-minute What I Thought You Said) starts off more gently with a tinkling of chimes and a clanking of pipes and then a sort of groaning monotonous bassy chant (which somehow puts me in mind of throat singing without actually being anything of the sort), but gradually builds up the layers and is possibly more potent for that. It also features a striking bit of insistent whispering, which is a bit like Goblin’s soundtrack to Suspiria only without the high camp. I felt a bit dizzy after experiencing this once. In, like, a good way. (Listening recommendation, other than the bit about sitting down: make sure you have good stereo separation. When I’m not using headphones, I find sitting on a cushion on the floor right up near my floorstanding speakers to be a good choice.)

I bought this from Juno. They call it Experimental / Electronic.

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