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Charlemagne Palestine and The Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra – Omminggg and Schlomminggg

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Charlemagne Palestine and The Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra - Omminggg and SchlommingggFor the second collaborative release between the wonderfully wonky minimalist composer and toy lover Charlemagne Palestine and our very own Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra, they have chosen to spread a 2016 live show at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse across three sides of beautiful aqua vinyl housed in a suitably mysterious and oily gatefold cover, on which some cute little critters are melting into a pool of happiness. There is no information at all on the cover, so in essence, considering the wealth of back catalogue collaborations under Palestine’s belt and the different directions in which they travel, this is a dive into the unknown.

Imagine a sylvan setting, maybe a nice dry wooded area with a welcoming clearing, a gentle drone of wind through trees and an enticing voice, maybe male, maybe female luring you and lulling you towards this spot to rest and revive. The voice is somehow insinuating, but you are unable to find the source of the voice; it just seems to come from the trees. Keyboards shimmer, and somewhere in the tops of the trees an exotic bird ululates a high call, oddly alien yet somehow at home. This is the perfect place to rest as guitar spectres resonate and vibrate beyond the clearing. Wind chimes are hanging somewhere nearby and out far in the distance is the sound of road workers, or is it just the solemn call of distant bells? The volume starts to increase and the sense of a stronger breeze becomes slightly more disturbing. Things are afoot in the forest and the equilibrium is slightly disrupted.

You can sense things in the back of your mind or just in the corner of your eye, fleeting yet making their presence felt. The vibe ebbs and flows and the vocals drop in and out of earshot as melancholy piano notes start to take their place. Is that a cello? Are the violin insects starting to become attracted to your position? The piano chimes and seems to want to break out of the forest but is unable to do so; the trees are keeping it in. The piano seems to depict what could be as the vortex ends and Arabic vocals and bells dissipate into a gentle swell.

The drama seems to be over for a moment, but the vocals and some sort of helicopter sounds usher in side two; lush paddy fields are just beyond our temporary rest spot and maybe are worth investigating. Some familiar piano notes and a more urgent drone draw us on, swell as the piano becomes a little discordant – things around us are becoming less tranquil as the drone becomes silvery and smog-like. We feel like fleeing, but from what? Stealthy tendrils affect the power of the piano and it loses its way as we become a little disorientated somewhere in the woods. Deep notes are coming from far within, but branches are ready to repel at the request of the muezzin. Nothing is resolved as the piano deepens and the sense of dread rises with the discordance. The vocals humanise the situation somehow, but then piano is resolute and insists on the way. The voices eventually find one another and there is a sense of resolution – at least for the moment.

The third side is less clear: there is less space, things are gauzier, more claustrophobic, we are lost deeper in the forest. Although the drone is not so pronounced, the discordant piano stabs put the hair up on your arms. The drone is growling mixed with the vocals and the piano is dizzying and disorientating, but gradually diminishes back into the mysterious haze. The vocals reappear, reverting to their gentle state and the bells begin to lead the way, the gentle pitter-patter a friendly and welcome intrusion. As we find our way back out of this crazy and slightly surreal adventure, the opening drone reasserts itself and in a calm and dreamlike way gently ushers us out back out as if the past hour had never happened.

The three live sides just go to show the journey on which three people and a wealth of imagination can take the assorted listeners. It is an absolute delight and rather like the previous collaboration[link], it rather makes you wish that you had been there to experience the event in person. There is a fourth side which is a redux of everything that has come before and is a lovely listen in its own right – the vibrant drone, the muezzin vocalising, the gentle sawing and rapid piano – but it is the live cuts that make this an essential purchase. Next time they are in town, I will be queuing up for tickets.

-Mr Olivetti-

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