Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hungry Ghost - The Man Ray Sessions (Tone Casualties, 1997)

If you were a frequent viewer of cartoons on television in your youth, chances are the 5-second sequences of production company logos have been etched into your brain, and if you spent the latter half of the 90s watching Nickelodeon, you remember Klasky Csupo, Inc. These were the producers that created the creme de la creme of your nostalgia, such as The Wild Thornberrys, Aaahh! Real Monsters, As Told By Ginger, Rocket Power, and most notably Rugrats.

Few would suspect an independent animation company to house a music imprint as well, so potential reasons as to why the Tone Casualties label went under could spring to mind in an instant. Surprisingly, the label didn't release any CDs of Mark Mothersbaugh's 'bah'-ridden compositions (those can be discovered through its sister, Casual Tonalities). Tone Casualties didn't provide any music characteristic of Klasky Csupo products; its mission statement had an aim to issue "unconventional sound adventures and daring endeavors in new electronic music."

Don't misinterpret the jazzy coffeehouse wall painting on the cover; The Man Ray Sessions is of the ilk that Tone Casualties sought after. The railroad refrain of "Heavy Planet" oscillates, dissipates, and is restored; a paradigm presently followed by the likes of Celer and the Caretaker. And like these two modern ambient exemplars, the opener wavers about melancholy and repose, eliciting an unabating question of comfort. The uncertainty is erased by "Nagual"'s abruptly squirming transmissions and massive, gong-like resonance comprising 8 minutes of stomach-turning paranoia.

Despite the Tone Casualties thesis and its age, The Man Ray Sessions does very little in the way of pushing boundaries. Nearly all of its 10 compositions follow a clear procedure of looping in short sequences, accumulating phrases and accents until caked in mid-range and echo. Subtle evolution is present, but Hungry Ghost seems more keen on immersing the listener in stasis. This approach is also what lends the album its cohesion and unstable flavor of hypnosis.

[Hungry Ghost Myspace]
[Buy The Man Ray Sessions from Tone Casualties]

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