Venturing forth on a freezing cold night to watch a mainly unheard of band is not something I normally do, but, my interest piqued by reports of MOONGOOSE's last live outing, I undertook this seemingly foolish task, braving the elements and wrapped up like some bizarre xmas eskimo. MOONGOOSE last played Parr St Studios in September, after weather conditions deemed the scheduled venue unsafe (St. Luke's Church, top of Bold St.). The band have, apparently, been going quite some time, a studio 'hobby' of YORKIE, ex-bassist with legendary Liverpool quirksters SPACE. The fact that he had decided to take the band to venues was interesting. A quick search on the internet and I found a couple of tracks that were almost as baffling as they were intriguing. On arrival at THE STATIC GALLERY I found myself in the company of like minded people hoping to witness something maybe a little different from the norm. The pre-gig music was excellent, but I don't know the name of the gentleman responsible, and the atmosphere was very congenial and civilized. MOONGOOSE took to the stage and looked immediately like they were in danger of leaving again: apparently some technical hitch. Then they began: a pulsing, throbbing concatenation of sound that, it would become apparent, is entirely their own. The band remain virtually motionless throughout the set, with fits and starts from either or both of the guitarists, but with a drummer so animated he almost distracts from the filmed projections. And what projections! Almost a symbiotic relationship with the music is achieved with the projections. As if each song had it's own self contained world in their presentation. By the third song, I clicked that there was to be no vocals. A refreshing change and something that I for one never missed. The sound carried on, pulsing like Carpenter, tearing shreds out of the songs with razor sharp guitars and dazzling with those images. It seemed over far too soon: the band left the stage as a song played all on it's own, solely in the company of it's own images. They then ambled back on stage for one last tune: a shuffling, almost funky beast that was truly mesmerising. This cinematic experience left my ears ringing and my eyes dazzled. The fact that on paper this shouldn't work at all, but in reality works so splendidly, is a true testament to all involved. I returned to the bar, and the comforting sounds of the unknown dj. Chatting to people about the gig in a general atmosphere of agreement: MOONGOOSE are indeed striving for something truly different. I have seen gigs at THE STATIC GALLERY which have been better attended, but came away thinking I'd seen something in MOONGOOSE that was totally unique. When's the next one?
The 'Silhouettes & Shadows' EP is available on Imprint Of Quality as a digital download from HMV, 7 Digital, iTunes, Napster, etc
MOONGOOSE - Organic Technology
Our Rating: 8/10
Primarily the brainchild of David ‘Yorkie’ Palmer (Space, The Balcony), MOONGOOSE also feature Mark Jordan, Alex Griffiths and fellow unsung Scouse cult hero, guitarist Paul Cavanagh (Top/ The Room) and between them, they clearly intend to put a highly individual spin of their own on this here ‘pop’ malarkey.
Their two previous EPs, 2010’s ‘Silhouettes & Shadows’ and last year’s excellent ‘Footprints’ took a shared love of Can, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and all things Krautrock as the base camp for sonic exploration and proceeded to make fantastic, all-instrumental journeys to lesser-charted poles.
Now their debut LP proper finally arrives, the clue to its heart lies in its title. Again a wholly instrumental affair (like the first EP, it’s again sub-titled ‘Reaction Music’), ‘Organic Technology’ forges an eminently successful summit meeting between man and machine.
Opening track ‘In A Recurring Dream’ gives you a good idea what to expect. Taking off slowly with Aphex Twin-style blips and ambience aplenty, its initial glitch-y, electro premise is gradually subsumed by bass, busy drums and fuzzbox-driven, psych-tinged guitars. Like most of what follows, it’s evocative and scene-setting and would surely work well with a filmic backdrop.
Crucially, though – rather like Barry Adamson’s equally cinematic ‘Moss Side Story’ back in the day – ‘Organic Technology’ holds its own on purely sonic terms. Drawing on motorik, Neu-style rhythms and the atmosphere of ‘Systems of Romance’-era Ultravox, tracks like the all-too brief ‘At Silver Blades’ and the hypnotic title track exist within a time of their own, while the balmily melodic bliss of ‘Throb (Part 2)’ and the lilting minimalism of ‘An Incident on Pelham Grove’ get under your skin within seconds.
If forced to choose a favourite, the tantalising ‘And From My Window I Look Down On Skyscrapers’ – fuelled by spaghetti western guitar motifs and sultry trumpet blasts – probably deserves the blue riband, but for its overall skill in marrying precision, experimentalism, melody and enigma, ‘Organic Technology’ never really fails in its bid to get the balance absolutely right.
MOONGOOSE - Footsteps EP
Our Rating: 8/10
From the day his mam rented out her basement to the Teardrop Explodes and Echo & The Bunnymen for rehearsal space, it seemed David ‘Yorkie’ Palmer was destined for great things of a musical nature.
Since those innocent Post-Punk days he’s certainly stamped his mark on the Liverpool scene, featuring in respected local cult heroes like Egypt for Now, The Balcony and The Pale Fountains and later gaining international attention as part of Tommy Scott’s mega-selling Space.
Also featuring Mark Jordan, Alex Griffiths and former Top/ The Room guitarist Paul Cavanagh, MOONGOOSE is Yorkie’s new sonic venture and it was borne primarily out of a lifelong love of Krautrock legends Can, Tangerine Dream and Faust: influences which certainly seep through the skein of the restless soundscapes featured on the band’s 2010 debut EP ‘Silhouettes & Shadows reaction Music 1.’
The band’s new EP ‘Footprints’, though, is something of a step forward. While it’s difficult to deny the lead track ‘...By Train”s Kraftwerk-ian edge (all pulsing heartbeats, stripped back electronics and an inherently filmic feel) or the Tangerine Dream influence on the glacial synths of ‘Continental Drift”s opening couple of minutes, there’s plenty more going down here.
Moongoose’s PR blurb suggests their ethos is to make electronica sound “accessible” and they achieve that aim here. While their primarily instrumental music has cinematic, machine-based leanings, rockier elements like the sinewy guitar lifting ‘Continental Drift’ and the mighty, neo-Zeppelin riffing launching ‘Organic Technology’ ensure the balance between technological precision and human intuition remains just so. The final track ‘Traveller, though, is perhaps the best thing here, with the low-key analogue beats and what sounds like a melodica giving way to a band-based groove with funky bass lunges from Yorkie and spacey guitars taking it into another galaxy altogether.
Available for download and as a limited edition CD from the Moongoose website, ‘Footprints’ leaves an intriguing trail for the open-minded Pop moodster to follow. Tracking it down really should be on your agenda.