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The Moglass - Telegraph Poles Are Getting Smaller and Smaller as the Distance Grows

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Artist: The Moglass

Album: Telegraph Poles Are Getting Smaller and Smaller as the Distance Grows

Label: Nexsound

Review date: Sep. 10, 2003

The Steady Click of Motion

While it’s not surprising from whom the Moglass takes its cues – Fred Frith, Tangerine Dream, Loren Mazzacane Connors – this three-piece experimental/ambient group from the Ukraine adds process to the often distract approach of their predecessors. Recorded on Christmas Day, 2000, Telegraphs Poles are… is plainly packaged, just an album title and song titles in Russian. The substance inside is equally as plain, slowly gathering energy from the movements of the various instruments to gain peaks and descend back into valleys without ever climaxing. This creates a sense of impending frustration, a feeling that the album explores and exploits. The rhythmic current is comprised of digitalized sound bytes and earthy phasers layered with appropriately filtered guitar reverb, and channels Frith’s guitar/effects bag and the louder parts of Connors’ Come Night. This disc would be right at home in the Constellation Records stable, beside the airy side of Godspeed You! Black Emperor that rises between orchestral chugs, and the machination of Hanged-Up.

Individual pieces are often lost to the listener, as the album slips quietly from one track to another with pauses that barely register. The opening track, “A”, whispers with a graceful ambience and hints at the digital clicks and manipulations to come. Morning ascends midway through the piece, and the sound spirals into a promising contentment. Other tracks, all in Russian characters, strike and destroy this premature settling; the second track stabs through a whistling darkness, and the fourth track echoes its bleak wonder and questioning calls from the upper register. The third and fifth tracks introduce the steady swishing call of train-like beats and the response of carefully plucked guitar notes, the first human presence on the record. The last track is largely silence, with the occasional interruption of soft, but chilling digitalia.

Pieces subtlely unfold with purpose and direction behind an abstract veil. It’s hard not to suggest Western associations of the Eastern bloc and former Communist states – the machinations, the eerie strikes of frigidity, the frozen land – but these might be projections by myself rather than receptions. While the invocation of isolation is unavoidable, might this not be the regular creak and slap of a motel vacancy sign in a Florida hurricane, or the emptiness of a Northwestern forest full of illusionary enemies? These enemies are distinctly natural, organic, with no inherent suggestions of a Soviet pall cast over a landscape already frightening to begin with.

Songs stretch out, real time melts as the repetitions become the album’s inner clock, losing us in its labyrinthine counting. At once a recording of abstraction and machination, Telegraph Poles… is barren and desolate, a cold desert where the traveler is lost, but finds some comfort in following the endless line of telegraph poles.

By Joel Calahan

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