Lieven Martens Moana’s Dolphins Into The Future project is one of the rare fascinating fusions of the academic Erstwhile scene and the more “pop”-oriented synth world of the current American cassette underground. Even though Moana’s visual aesthetic and synth sounds have always been more in line with kosmische purveyors such as Emeralds, his notions of both sonic and physical space fall closely in line with the work of Graham Lambkin (who mastered the last Dolphins Into The Future record). Like Lambkin, Moana is fascinated with implicitly implying space in his recordings.
His last record, the excellent Canto Arquipélago, saw Moana creating “NEW landscapes, UNREAL landscapes, that penetrate down to the deeper psychology of music.” Canto Arquipélago’s use of field recordings and gentle electronic instrumentation created an entirely new space that incorporated the listener’s connotations of the tropical/exotic through Moana’s fuzzy field recordings but placed them against synths that equally utilized and warped preconceived notions of the cosmic. With this minimum of materials, Moana managed to layer his sounds in such a way that the listener’s juxtaposed preconceptions were forced to create/imagine a new terrain that incorporated these old definitions of the “exotic” while not adhering to either the outer space realms of the synths or the worldly exotica of the field recordings.
However, with Moana’s tour-only album Writings, it was clear that the composer’s ideas about sound’s ability to evoke space was changing. That record was surprisingly austere and electronic, though still wrapped in Moana’s layer of analog haze. Writings seemed like Moana’s first attempt to create unreal landscapes without attempting to call the listener’s past sonic associations into question.
Based off of “Act One, Under The Stone Pine” from Moana’s upcoming release (and the first under his proper full name), Music From The Guardhouse, Moana seems to have fully realized this new sonic language. Like Writings, the sounds here are strictly electronic and quite tonally removed from much of Moana’s Dolphins Into The Future work. In some ways, this new work is reminiscent of early electronic composers such as Stockhausen, but Moana’s work is much friendlier and inviting despite its alien nature. Perhaps Moana is creating a new environment out of our past conceptions of experimental music? But, then there are all of the allusions to romantic poets in Music From The Guardhouse’s song titles that further complicate things.
Maybe all of these mysteries will be solved June 3 when the record is released via Kraak. Until then, we’ll just have to revel in the bell like burbles of this strangely gorgeous track:
• Lieven Martens Moana: http://www.cetaceannationcommunications.blogspot.com
• Kraak: http://www.kraak.net/en