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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Master musicians

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This year I’m seeing out December with (among other things) several albums by the Master Musicians of Bukkake, a Seattle group led by producer Randall Dunn. MMOB’s name started as a joke (and no doubt still catches unawares anyone unfamiliar with Japanese pornography) but now positions the ensemble as indigenous performers from an imaginary country, a persona reflected in the masks and robes the musicians wear, and in their music which blends chants, non-Western instruments, synthesizers and extended wah-wah guitar drones that wouldn’t be out-of-place on a German album from the 1970s. The music alone would be enough for me but there’s the added bonus of songs based on Borges texts, Tibetan references (Dunn is a Buddhist) and outfits borrowed from Jodorowsky films. Dunn and some of the other group members have connections with Seattle groups Earth and Sunn O))), and it’s possible to detect trace elements of both those bands in the MMOB sound, especially on live recordings.

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As usual I’ll be taking my winter break over the next few days so I’ll activate the blog archive and leave you with a tremendous 75-minute performance by the Master Musicians of Bukkake at Leoncavallo, Milan, in 2013. The stage is rather cramped for the group’s theatrics, and there’s only the one camera, but the band raise a considerable cone of power performing extended variations on numbers from their recent Far West album. Far West and its follow-up, the synth-oriented Further West Quad Cult, can be listened to on their own or played together in a mix of your own choosing. MMOB aren’t the first band to do this but I don’t know of any album or (albums) that sound so different in isolation. Perfect listening for the darkest weeks of the year.

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3 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by JB

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    The central character in the first picture reminds me of a Death in June parody.

  2. #2 posted by Michelangelo

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    Wait, isn’t Death in June a parody?

  3. #3 posted by Michelangelo

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    The very mention of Leoncavallo really brings me back — it is a squatters’ social centre that has been running since 1975, with many transformations along the way. A slice of history of the Italian left, for good and bad.

 




 

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