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Dead Voices On Air – The Bowles Given/MzMz LalaLa (20th anniversary collaborative 7″ singles)


To celebrate 20 years of Dead Voices On Air, Mark Spybey is in the process of releasing a series of 7″ singles in cahoots with a variety of friends and accomplices. The first appears under the name MzMz LalaLa, and consists of Spybey and Simon Fisher Turner.

Together, the two sides of the 7″ offer glimpses of passing soundscapes in almost haiku form, so (seemingly) brief is their span – seemingly, as the A-side is in fact a shade of five minutes in length. “For Peace” features piano becoming progressively cut up and disrupted by snippets of words and sounds of warfare and/or crisis snatched from the headlines, and the rippling beats which slot briefly into place chug in with a confident swagger. But nothing is let to hold in place for long, as the wind-whipped recordings from the front line (though interestingly, they’re not the usual crump of artillery or rattle of small arms, but the sounds of Arabic voices in obvious state of urgent activity) lead out to nullity to conclude a strangely affecting miniature.

On the other hand/side, “Sing Song Sing” contrasts a pretty guitar strum with chirruping mobile phone rings and wavering drones, while Fisher Turner sings a flickering ditty. Almost frustratingly short, the piece gutters and decays, leaving an aftertaste of something barely hinted at, yet subtly refreshing.

The Bowles Given is the name adopted by Mark Spybey and Edward Ka-Spel for the second  7″, and here Ka-Spel is in fine form, his elliptically outré delivery once again showing him to be the archdruid of disturbingly lateral raconteurs.

“Self-Loathing By Numbers” drops in like an extra-terrestrial landing pod, welling up and backwards from the crash site in an accreting jigsaw of tones which soon welcome reverberating drums and Ka-Spel’s ever-wondering, always questioning voice of displaced estrangement. As the music breaks down, so does EKS, the guttural interjections and crumbling wall of sound dissipate, leave much unanswered.

On the flipside, matters proceed at a far more melancholy pace, a mordant piano circling as a lost and lonely Ka-Spel mutters and pleas repeatedly for aid, wretched as his birthday decays into distress; it’s disconcerting listening to say the least, all the more for the sparse distance between the trickles, faint echoes and merely-hinted at drones which surround his fading voice.

And then it’s over; but hopefully there will be more recordings from both The Bowles Given and MZMz LaLaLa in future, as these two singles demand more, much more, to come.

-Richard Fontenoy-

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