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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Mar Habrine - Self Titled [Lighten Up Sound - 2011]

This is a very simple review to write, but thus also incredibly difficult for the same reasons. “This is a great release.” There it is. I now have to pad this out to reach the word limit….

The packaging is suitably cryptic, with a mysterious front cover image that involves a huddle of naked, tailed women. Inside, there are few words and no track titles. All we learn of any consequence is that the tape consists of “Electronics recorded live to cassette deck”.

So, on to the electronics… Well, what we have is two sides of fantastic, raw, murky sounds; if it was titled as an archival piece of ancient electronics, you might not suspect a thing. The source of these sounds is very unclear; it could be an expensive modular synth, it could be a very lo-tech set up with a Kaoss Pad - theres very little way of my ear telling. This is a somewhat compelling mystery, since the tape was recorded live and I’m intrigued to see how Mar Habrine has performed this. (Sounds often seem to shift and move together, as if several different sounds were originating from the same source…) The electronics are very active in their movement - in terms of both sound-field and modulation; the pieces are overwhelmingly kinetic and playful. Squiggles and bleeps jump from speaker to speaker; they loop and stutter, congregate and fly apart. The one more linear track on the tape - the third piece, which is a droning two-note riff over a buried drum machine - is the static exception to the fidgety energy of the other tracks; its an incredibly barren piece, which is possibly why it works so well. The low fidelity of the recording adds a lot to the quality of the sounds, often gifting it the kind of drunken slurring and lurching you’d associate with Boards Of Canada, for example. This same fidelity ensures a grainy, dulled sound; which helps create an effective atmosphere for the electronics. The overall mood is neither sci-fi, academic or aggressive; to return to the tape cover, theres a somewhat mysterious tone. The tape really doesn’t put a foot wrong, to my ears, until two of the last pieces; these use less “open” electronic sounds -  a looped sample of a song (?) and a short noisy track which sounds like a computer game cassette loading. I’m less enamoured of these - but they can’t spoil a truly great release.

About a minute after pressing “Play”, I actually noted down “TTHIS IS GREAT” (my exact words and spelling), and at the end of the tape I had exactly the same thoughts. I shall thus end on the corniest of conclusions, but I’m quite genuine: having checked the Lighten Up Sound website, I see there are two copies left for sale - what are you waiting for?

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

Martin P
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