M/M ~ I Know You Are Thinking I’ve Said This All Before

Sometimes music is all about creating a mood ~ hollowing out an experiential space in which the listener may dwell.  M/M creates this space in two half-hour pieces on I Know You Are Thinking I’ve Said This All Before.  Extended loops create a lulling effect enhanced by background textures and unobtrusive modulations.  Sometimes the primary loop disappears for a stretch, as if wandering into another room, producing a sense of distance (as found in the seventh minute of “I thought you might take me to the deep blue sky”).  Instead of rushing in to fill the gap, the other elements stay where they are, content to rest.  The artist sits alone with his guitar, quietly strumming, lost in contemplation.  Only in the closing minutes does a repeating drone offer a sense of closure.

These works were composed a year apart but during the same time frame: the liminal week between Christmas and New Year’s.  During this strange stretch, time is both present and suspended; everyone is aware of the calendar, and yet little gets done.  The same holds true for the conditions under which Michael McGregor recorded: two snowstorms.  The combination of calendar (little work) and weather (little movement) is reflected on this cassette, which the Czaszka label calls a “spiritual successor” to Before We Lost Ourselves.  Each attempts to find meaning in abeyance, beauty in suspension.

The title “the way light reflects off a cobweb” is reminiscent of Jean-Dominique Bauby, who after his paralysis considered light through curtains, dust modes in sunbeams, the slow refraction of time.  Self-help books emphasize the importance of slowing down; M/M offers an example of the things we miss while moving at inattentive speeds.  The track is filled with subtle changes and temporary additions, one like a scabbard, another like a chime.  The center includes what some might interpret as a Middle Eastern melody, a reflection of the way in which the imagination can travel to distant places while the body remains still.  On the surface, little is happening; below the surface, a bustle of increments.  I know you are thinking I’ve said this all before, writes McGregor.  Maybe he has.  But this time, the inflection is different.  And the key to long-term memory is repetition.  (Richard Allen)

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