Reviews

Published on April 27th, 2016 | by The Beige Baron

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Scattered Purgatory | God of Silver Grass

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Intriguing flavors of east-Asian drone bubble to the surface on Scattered Purgatory’s excellent new cassette God of Silver Grass, the band’s second for Guruguru Brain—a boutique Tokyo label whose roster includes Kikagaku Moyo, Sundays & Cybele, and Minami Deutsch.

These four long tracks, all composed and recorded in Taiwan “quite a while ago” according to Scattered Purgatory’s Li-Yang Lu, pulsate with warm analog intimacy; abundant textures blend in sound manipulated by vintage electronic equipment and layers of acoustic and electric instrumentation.

Gods of Silver Grass captures a band in metamorphosis

Opener Bauputzu, with its deep-bellied synth and guitar lead soaring high above it, slowly descends into mournful piano keys and collage of news announcements spoken in Chinese, creating a dark, brooding atmosphere. The mood flows into a sample of rapidly chanted prayer on Pathway Ghost, spiky guitar-headstock chimes shooting through a murky pool of kosmiche in flashes of taut energy.

Dim Moon places lyrics and melody from an old Wu Zin-Hwai song into an ever-shifting murmur of tape echo and throbbing keyboard tone—the ambient pastiche of sound resulting from a desire to “create something new on a limited recording budget,” says Li-Yang.

But it’s not until Side B, when God of Silver Grass gathers cosmic wind in its sails, does the band shift to a higher plane. With one half of Scattered Purgatory relocated to Tokyo and the other (for the time being) in Taipei, this sprawling 24 minutes of extraordinary music hints at a more open and collaborative future direction for the band.

The track features a number of guest musicians—er-hu and trumpet ply a shifting sea of sounds as the song builds and releases and builds again—Li-Yang “standing in the middle of the circle with a baritone guitar, conducting like a motherfucker”.

“The main difference this time [compared to previous albums] is that I set up a theme for each song, and as an semi-improvised album, setting up a mood first is a big deal,” he notes.

Scattered Purgatory has been at the center of the underground music in Taipei for a number of years, and by virtue of the scene’s relative insularity, like-minded artists frequently share influences and work on projects together. But God of Silver Grass is perhaps the first Scattered Purgatory song to fully flesh out and enhance an idea by means of successful and open collaboration with other artists.

 

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“Being an experimental duo has given us the ability and motivation to invite the musicians we admire to collaborate or do a session together, just like we did on the title track,” Li-Yang says of the band’s current iteration as a two-piece, and possible future as a loose pan-Asian collective with Li-Yang and Jiachi at its core.

In any case, God of Silver Grass captures a band in metamorphosis—each of these pieces are powerful, evocative, and atmospheric sonic sculptures that are linear to the band’s earlier work, but it’s the title track that points the way forward, and makes this cassette worth adding to your collection of high quality world music.

FFO: The Myrrors, Earth, Masaki Batoh, Maher Shalal Hash Baz

God of Silver Grass is available from GuruGuru Brain’s bandcamp page as limited edition cassette or digital download. Follow Scattered Purgatory on Facebook for more information.


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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.



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