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Marcus Fischer - Monocoastal [12K - 2010]

Monocoastal is Marcus Fischer’s sonic summary of his experiences of the Pacific Ocean as viewed from the west coast of America. It collects eight relatively short pieces delicately formed by a consistently minimal range of instruments and sounds from the explicit tones of acoustic and electric guitars to the implicit accompaniment of field recordings and unspecified home made instruments. Compositionally, each track seems to follow a similar tact in hanging its selection of sonorities and environmental evocations loosely together as a kind of mobile, letting the sea breeze suggest its sequence.

The overall effect is successful throughout in suggesting a calm ebb and flow of the tide. Typically, clusters of amber tones are formed (most often on a richly harmonic guitar) that lazily extend, curling and uncurling, before withdrawing over the airy ambience of a lightly hissing tape recorder whose unedited documentary occasionally reveals feint steps and rustles of a pastoral life. Particularly on tracks like the opener, ‘Wave Atlas’, as well as both parts of the title track and ‘Wind And Wake’, the bell-like harmonics have a sense of bright sunlight’s dappling effect radiating a water’s surface. While elsewhere, the unhurried twang over a distant wind chime can feel like an effortless introduction to an alt.country epic.

The recording quality is perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the release, the guitar is closely mic’d revealing the intended and unintended resonances of every finger movement, while the clicks and pops of the tape recordings are finely balanced with the warm bed of reverberating undercurrents that loosely weave and waft here and there. While easy on the ear, these inconsequential sound poems all seem to describe the same state – a bright, sun-filled morning, carefree and calm. All tracks swim around the same register at a similar drowsy pace providing a feeling of an inert yet sober groundhog day, albeit one with great weather and scenery. This stillness makes the album far preferable as background ambience where it has the tranquillising effect of an uneventful coastal stroll.

Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5

Russell Cuzner
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