My Cat is an Alien - "Untitled 2" (Living on the Invisible Line)
On their latest album, brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio spent time recording in the western Alps, and the resulting soundscapes could be imagined to echo the remote scenery like a ritualistic reimagining of mountains and forest, while not neglecting the unforgiving aspects of nature. Using guitars, small keyboards, and effects, the music aims for trance inducement, keeping to minimal sonic layers aided by heavy use of delay effects.
The Italian brothers behind MCIAA have been releasing their trippy sounds since 1997, with this one limited to a vinyl edition of 500 copies. The 38 minutes are divided into two tracks per side, simply titled parts 1–4. While the title might bring to mind the idea of ley lines, magical paths of power, the music is less evocative of witchery than of mesmerism. The 14-minute opening piece begins quietly with repeating lines of delayed guitars chiming and intersecting, interrupted by occasional synth blurps. As strong tones make their way into the picture they interrupt the flow, taking it in a more forceful direction that doesn’t feel as rewarding. The shorter second piece evolves from pure drone into echoed fields of chiming guitar with a gently pretty yet elegiac mood.
The plinking notes that open side two rain down through layers of delay, slowly becoming denser, like a forest of wind-blown harps. While the effects lend it a synthetic aspect, the piece is the most purely evocative of the mountain setting in which the album was recorded. The piece gets more tangled until halfway through, when the layers suddenly peel back, leaving an isolated guitar plucking delicately in a reverb chamber, from which it slowly meanders its way to a quiet ending. The final piece feels like a return to modernity in a way, beginning with a strum-squeak loop before what sounds like a heavily reverbed voice layers over a pretty plucked guitar melody, as static crackles in the foreground. It’s hypnotic, but feels less naturally constructed than what came before.
It’s unwise to make too much of any album’s recording circumstances, but with music like this it’s natural to find a handle, something from which to begin. With no words, any specific meaning is entirely up for grabs, of course. Ultimately, it’s difficult to find any single thread that weaves these pieces together: the mix of natural and synthetic, perhaps; the focus on space, using delay and reverb to place the sounds in an environment; or just the experiment of working with guitar and electronics to find the resulting blend. There’s certainly an overall atmosphere of quietude, despite the sporadic blips and tones that can throw a listener off kilter. It keeps the music from fading into background sound, but it can also prevent it from encouraging complete immersion.