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Motor Ghost - A Gold Chain Round Her Breast

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Artist: Motor Ghost

Album: A Gold Chain Round Her Breast

Label: Dancing Wayang

Review date: May. 2, 2007

Recorded and mixed in a single day, the breadth of reach on A Gold Chain Round Her Breast is more commonly found on a shuffle option than a slab of vinyl. This of course shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone already familiar with free-drumming folk futurist Alex Neilson or improvising psychedelisist Ben Reynolds, but their Motor Ghost raises the bar on their resumes.

This session sees them emptying out their talents onto the table, then mixing and chopping this mound out into five lines of potent musical firing and one solo slice of Neilson a capella heaven. With music exploding from the fissures between swollen-veined guitar bleeds, electronically-spurned morphed horn sounds and some flexible percussion, this is like someone melted the whole of Japan’s PSF label into one 12.”

Pensive martial patterns and trembling builds makes much of the record feel like it’s about to get an injection of MC5 at any second; instead, it remains at a solid, orbiting peak. Following each others trails, Reynolds loses himself in stretches of stellar soloing while Neilson follows invisible shadows over his kit without showering it in hits. Both “Golden Promise” and “Hated Illumination” use the Greek dümuk horn to potent effect, the former making it sound like duelling high end alto saxophones while the latter sends bursts amongst tempestuous guitar. Further influxes of electronics broaden and morph these horn parts into thick gusts of spurned sound, adding another layer to the duo’s organic foundation. Capturing the chilly heart of the record with the Spanish acoustic styling of “My Dancing Day,” Reynolds also adds a frost to the duo’s inventory.

A Gold Chain Round Her Breast ends on the unsettlingly sweet high of “Leaves of Life,” an initially odd choice for a record that deals principally with expansive free drum / guitar work. The stroke of echo on Alex Neilson’s solo vocal take on this traditional gives the song a ghostly angle, supporting the tale of resurrection and death. Seeming more like an open door to another side of Motor Ghost’s repertoire than a closer, with any luck this pair have only just begun to chart their work.

By Scott McKeating

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