MV & EE Liberty Rose

[Arbitrary Signs; 2010]

Styles: experimental/minimal blues, sparse psychedelic jam
Others: Spectre Folk, Pink Floyd, Wooden Wand/Vanishing Voice

Beaming down from the cosmos to a transmitter in some desolate place west of the Appalachian Mountains comes Liberty Rose, the new LP from Brattleboro, Vermont’s prolific duo/collective MV & EE. Noted for their ability to assemble both musicians and noises into dense, reverb-laden compositions, Matt Valentine and Erika Elder’s music describes the companionship between human-modified sound and nature’s own silence and echoes. Aptly split into two suites of equal running length, Liberty Rose, like most of the duo’s discography, hearkens back to the days of Scott Walker and Pink Floyd’s explorations into music’s atmospheric qualities, making it a perfect fit for Arbitrary Signs’ vinyl- and cassette-only release format.

With the air of dissonance that’s common throughout their discography, MV & EE capture well the state of being lost. Rather than forging through the anxiety and helplessness that this state offers, however, the band lavishes in its adventurousness and liberation. Unlike previous recordings, which feel dense and stratified, Liberty Rose is open and sparse: the difference between being lost in the woods of Appalachia and in the deserts of the Southwest. “Right to Dry” — an abstract, shimmering piece of reverb devoid of both structure and vocals — descends like stray noise into a transmitter. The absence of percussion sets the raga-infused tone for what’s to follow. “Flow My Ray” and “Crow Jane Environs,” which will be recognizable to fans, are electrified blues drones that aspire toward melodies amid distant, twangy whines and indistinguishable vocals. These voices are mere whispers moving across the sound plane, as much an instrument as the amplified strings that surround it.

Suite two (side two), which is largely acoustic, relies more solidly on songwriting. “Death is My Friend” is an acknowledgment of the spiritual realm. Drawing macabre incarnations of seemingly Buddhist and Gnostic notions of transcendence, Elder eerily mutters, “When you’re a man/ You’re a lonely man/ Your body’s frail/ When you die you’re a holy man/ Your poetry’s better then.” Distracting from the hazy exuberance of the album is its meatiest piece, “Out in Space,” which ultimately feels uncertain as to whether it should act as a companion to “Death is My Friend” or go to venture off again. The album concludes perfectly with “Streams,” which finds a lonesome, pretty, finger-picked acoustic guitar dissolve away into the slow, electrified echoes and then silence.

Liberty Rose will deliver listeners to a remarkably different place than most MV & EE recordings. Lacking the psychedelic, collective-driven euphoria of Barn Nova (2009) or the cosmic folk of Green Blues (2007), this new album reaches slowly inward and outward at the same time, connecting distant echoes with our own utterances and creeping notes with our own synapses.

Links: MV & EE - Arbitrary Signs

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