Medroxy Progesterone Acetate - Supplications (Black Horizons CS)
Another beautifully packaged tape of unknown sounds from the great Black Horizons label, this one from a unit called Medroxy Progesterone Acetate, who originally released "Supplications" themselves in a collectors' edition of five (!). This reissue could boast the toppest notchest packaging from BH to date - "color cover on black shimmer cardstock, with an insert containing texts / collage, on silver paper, clear labels. Hi-bias chrome tapes in an edition of 56" (hey, it's 51 more than the last run this tape had). Medroxy Progesterone Acetate is the nom de plume of Waterloo, Iowa's Darren Bauler, who used to play in a "tape-junk combo" called BFP, whatever that may stand for. When that dissolved in 1999, MPA began, and has since released a few documents on his own and other labels, including a collaboration with the Number None as Damp and Damned on Sloow Tapes. He's got a record coming soon on Musicyourmindwillloveyou called "We're a Monotonous Band" and another called "Play Something Slow" on Paha Porvari, so there's much to look forward to. Don't know how they'll match up to the standards set by his previous releases - early editions claimed to come with baby teeth and "fetish items" while some long-gone CD-Rs were 100 tracks in length. Gad-fucking-zooks.
Bauler puts a staggering amount of equipment and instruments to work in his recordings, some standard and most not-so-standard, including various mystifying things with names like the Sleep Generator and the Abbadon Device...sounds more like machinery for torture. And I guess in a way you could say it is! Nyuk nyuk. But seriously. I'm guessing a vast amount of Bauler's noise-makers were drawn upon to complete "Supplications", because the sonics are diverse enough that there's scarcely any repetition at all throughout the whole c78, and when there are, you know it's for effect and not for lack of originality. On the first side, Bauler splits between two kinds of blackened ambient sprawl - on "The Mars Hill Halfway House Talent Show" and "They Will Never Find My Body", there's far more ominous notes to be found. Scrambly electronic vibrations like circuits blowing and a dubby, bass-heavy background give way to buried vocal extracts and dizzying static creating a worrisome, paranoic atmosphere on the former while the latter threatens with mechanical tooth grinding, brightly burning feedback spears and phantom moans emitted from the mouth of the beast/Zardoz floating head style, minus the camp and the red tights and the Sean Connery. Whenever someone uses the term "that sinking feeling", it's this right here they're referring to. The other two tracks on this side are still creeped, but more in the hovering stasis/cosmic noise kind of way, almost an aural representation of the shimmery black cover the tape comes wrapped up in. In fact, "Vons Serin, Hidden in Soil", hits its stride in between floaty strobing and gorgeous washes of lighthouse/seaside ambience, that sounds like what you might hear form the control deck of an alien spacecraft while your organs are being given a once-over on the examining table in a chance meeting. Don't you hear from a lot of UFO-abductees that they felt a sense of calm and fearlessness when they had E.T.'s playing doctor with the vitals? Right, well that's this track, to a tee.
El flippo is dedicated to three longer tunes, and unfortunately the first few minutes of the opening "The Hudson Working (They See You With Three Eyes)" come out rather warped by way of a somewhat-mangled tape, but I must say it adds a great air of zippy distortion to the already-skewed synth droning...although it causes my tape player to shut off intermittently which I must say is no fun for anyone. So I missed a chunk of the build up, but the power that sinks in once everything rolls smoothly again still ain't impacted any less - this is a space-sucked black hole drone that'll compress those innards we talked about a paragraph ago if you get too close. It settles into a near-aquatic longform assault, combining said spacehum and the kind of electronic spatter and gargle that doesn't sound planets removed from my own tape difficulties I experienced near the beginning. "Little Pieces" works up a dust-eating drone akin to a streetcleaner passing beside you on the street, or in your bed, and an almost-rhythmic squelch like a deformed, spacey, pseudo beat. Whatever gizmo Bauler uses to generate that vaccuuming drone, it's amazing how much music the ear can pick out of it, because on the surface it sounds like a pretty static layer of dense electro-soak, until you start listening a little deeper. The closing "Melusine Shoreline" is an assortment of various plundered sounds seemingly laid out at random against a milky-white backdrop of gush, but slowly they congeal into patterns of off-kilter effects and snippets, replete with fucked-with conversation clips as if you weren't already nervous enough. It's real nice, if a little over-long.
On the whole I'm not quite sure what to make of this Medroxy Progesterone Acetate thing, but I can take one thing to my grave and that's knowing he put out at least one great tape that I heard in my life, and I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for the follow-ups because I can smell great things coming from behind the closed door to this cat's downstairs basement. What's great about "Supplications" is the balance in strikes between composition and improvisation, as well as noise and tranquility - too many noise acts these days try to bludgeon you into being intimidated and don't bother to (or don't know how to) put in the effort to craft something truly unique that'll stay inside your head long after it comes out of your stereo. Darren Bauler's got all that down pat already, so there's no place to go from here but up. Or down, depending on how you look at it. If you have yet to cop one of Black Horizons' beautiful editions, no finer place to start than with "Supplications", and not only because it's the only one that has yet to sell out (I think). Early tops of '07 for sure, if I'm allowed to include reissues as such.
The Mars Hill Halfway House Talent Show
MP3 courtesy Medroxy Progesterone Acetate