Microvictories is subtitled ‘songs sculpted from a scrapbook of experiments, field recordings, improvisations, thoughts and reactions to times and places’. That’s a fairly broad and all-encompassing manifesto. It’s the work of one Michael Anthony Wright, aka Brassica, and shares a similar outlook on the methods of music making to that of Norwegian duo Alog. At times it’s barely more than a random collection of clicks and clacks, scratches and other micro-sounds, but then things begin to coalesce into something with more form and structure. Third track “The First Education”, for example, sounds like the highly magnified noise of ants scuttling across leaf-litter, before building, almost unnoticeably, into a brooding mixture of strummed strings and cello drone and then fading before really blossoming. “Untitled (miniscuses)” (can you subtitle something untitled?) is a fragile piece for acoustic guitar and what sounds like a toy xylophone, whereas “Objective 1 (tangible)” is barely that (tangible).
By track five you have the album pegged as a collection of intricate, delicate microscopic sounds, but “Mull” wrong-foots you completely as it builds into a fuzz of electrostatic noise and feedback. And then “Thank You, Mr Francis” shoots off into another direction entirely with a sweet analogue electronic melody reminiscent of Boards of Canada. “Objective 2 (Meta)” has us in Oliver Postgate territory as it gurgles along like something from the Clangers’ world, before “Flams” bashes the listener over the head with two minutes of drums and drone thunder. “Welcome” has a driving bass guitar riff overlaid with all manner of electronic noise that sounds like the mangled noise of cassette loaded ZX Spectrums. Microvictories is stylistically all over the place, but it’s an intriguing forty minute journey. It’s a bit like a half-finished jigsaw puzzle that you can’t help returning to in order to find a couple more pieces that fit into the main picture. Some of it is immediate, and some of it makes you work – but often the rewards seem greater when you have to put more effort in to get them.
Tartaruga Records is only two releases old, but already they’ve set impeccably high standards when it comes to packaging. Microvictories comes in a handstamped gatefold card sleeve which is sewn rather than glued, and includes a set of ten art cards, each designed by a different artist and each corresponding to one of the album’s ten tracks. It’s a lovely artefact – a reminder of what is in danger of being lost as the world rushes headlong into the realm of ones and zeroes.
The album will be released on July 21st in an edition limited to just 200 copies.
The First Education (September 1985) by Oliver Barrett
Conveyor Belt (on the way out) by Mathieu Ranson
1 Conveyor Belt (on the way in) 3:19
2 Objective 1 (tangible) 1:32
3 The First Education (September 1985) 7:09
4 Untitled (miniscuses) 6:02
5 Mull (until the mind begins to blister) 6:04
6 Thank You, Mr Francis 5:38
7 Objective 2 (meta) 2:21
8 Flams? 1:55
9 Welcome (a piss in the river) 5:18
10 Conveyor Belt (on the way out) 1:59