Mysterious Seattle collective Master Musicians Of Bukkake return to the fold after the conclusion of their highly regarded Totem trilogy. Comprising of largely Eastern-tinged soundscapes and ‘ritualised’ music, Totems One, Two and Three are albums that I repeatedly return to, such is the quality and diversity of sounds and ideas on each.The concept behind new release Far West is the idea that the traveller seeking new sounds journeys so far East that he finds himself West. “White Mountain Return” opens proceedings with a burst of almost Lightning Bolt-esque electronic noise and it’s immediately evident that we are no longer in Totem territory here. Ominous synths appear like some ’70s soundtrack (MMOB have admitted to taking inspiration from various soundtracks from that era, Wicker Man included) with strummed acoustic guitars and electronic shrieks increasing the overall menacing sound. The entire thing ends with a cacophony of distorted electronics. “γη-νομος : GNOMI” follows this strong opening, and the only way I feel I can describe it is as a psychedelic desert folk shanty song. It marks what I think can be described as MMOB’s first foray into typical songwriting, with a sung vocal melody as opposed to the typically chanted Totem vocals. “Arche” is an 8-minute soundscape which sees the band enter the psychedelic space-rock territory. Tribal drums are joined by almost post-rock-esque chugging guitars before the analog synths return playing out a simple lead melody along with a filthy distorted repeating bass line. Over the top of it all is a Totem-era sounding processed vocal which lifts the tune further into the cosmos.
“Cave of Light: The Prima Materia” is perhaps the album centrepiece, repeated vocals referring to this mysterious cave along with choir-like backing vocals. A distorted guitar line descends and descends and descends while a synth/horn line perfectly ascends – it’s an absolutely triumphant moment. The ’70s soundtrack influence is here again with what I can only guess are whip-cracks, immediately bringing to mind Ennio Morricone‘s absolutely bonkers soundtrack to 1977’s absolutely bonkers Exorcist II: The Heretic. “You Are A Dream Like Your Dreamer – The Dark Peace” is analogue synth porn for those with such a disposition, multiple synth layers heightening the overall uneasy tone. It brings to mind some of the more trippy riverboat moments in Apocalypse Now as the madness of Vietnam and Kurtz begins to take hold of Captain Willard.Closer “Circular Ruins” is undoubtedly the most pretty MMOB have sounded and it’s an absolutely triumphant, optimistic closer. “Dream dream you dreamers of a child in most perfect form” is just one example of the uplifting lyrics, which themselves are based on the story of the same name by Jorge Luis Borges. Closing with an extended instrumental section comprising various horns, guitars and synths, it’s breathtaking in its widescreen beauty.
Far West doesn’t contain such immediate Totem romps such as “In The Twilight Of Kali Yuga” or “People Of The Drifting Houses,” but this is a different Master Musicians in action, and while this album requires more attention, it definitely pays off after repeated listens. Given the quality of the output on this new offering, long may these Seattle voyagers continue on their journey. It’s one that has me hooked.