The sixteen generally short songs on Moha!‘s sophomore album Norwegianism crash and clang by in a swirl of dissonance and industrial noise. Rune Grammofon’s beautiful, minimal packaging and solid coloured CDs, we know by now, often hold some of the most challenging of Scandinavian improvised/experimental modern music, and Moha!‘s found a snug home on the label that also releases artists like Thomas Stronen and Opsvik & Jennings. Everything about Norwegianism is designed to turn away the casual listener: screeching clusters of electronic noise; pinging repetitions of unidentifiable sound; abrupt silences and bursts of noise. The songs have names like “Jolly Five”, “Gay One” and “Entry Two”—some kind of cipher, perhaps, to the rules of the improvisation (who knows?). Various noises, like a modem sound effect, occur frequently enough to take on the nature of a trope; and throughout, Morten Olsen’s complex, straining percussion is a common element. “Jolly Two” is exemplary: squalls of noise, with sudden silence, and a coda that feels like an industrial, sustained assault—if you can understand it, you’re doing better than me. Two longer tracks at disc’s end, “Ibiza One” and “Ibiza Two”, show us that even this experimental music can suffer from lack of direction—“Ibiza One” in particular loses its way into percussion taps with no particular direction. Moha! is best on their short, sharp material: it’s challenging, sure, but assured and, in its own way, hinting towards some sense of greater insight into the chaos and absurdity of the world.
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// Notes from the Road
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