Moon Wiring Club Moon Wiring ClubA Spare Tabby At The Cat?s Wedding
The world of Ian Hodgson isn’t easy to understand, and this is perhaps the answer to a question that many of us have been asking ourselves for the last three years: why isn’t he better known, why is he still a semi-ignored eccentric in spite of the efforts of illustrious fans and distinguished journalists to let people know about his work? I have the feeling that from the moment that the word “eccentric” is used, many doors are closed for artists, unless you are a pop diva with coloured and treated hair. Ian Hodgson disguises himself as many people–the Moon Wiring Club is made up only of him, hiding behind the identity of the gentleman who calls himself Doctor Lettow-Vorbeck, although he wants to get us to believe that Paris Green also has access, along with the scientist Almond Talbot and actress Pomona Fripps– and at the same time, his music acts like it it’s from many periods. This way, it’s difficult for your message to come through clearly, even for consumers of experimental electronic music. In any case, I can’t help thinking that the mystery and rhetoric of the Moon Wiring Club will one day break the deep underground barrier and allow Hodgson’s music to find a larger public, as Pram did years ago, and as Mordant Music also did very recently, because his music isn’t nearly as hermetic as the other great mystery of the hauntology scene, The Focus Group.
Well, I’ve already said it: Moon Wiring Club is a key name in terms of hauntology, that people aren’t talking about any more, and which was so fashionable last year. Its technique is that of collage and its palette of colours is that of all possible music. Moon Wiring Club, in fact, tries to create the illusion that it has always existed and that the origins of the project go back to the 16th century, but without trying to be a Shakespearean sum of the entire human spirit, its weaknesses, virtues, and dramas. Not satisfied with the present moment, Moon Wiring Club searches in more noble and attractive past periods: conceptually, they are the dynasty of Tudor and Queen Victoria, the album culminates with “Edwardian Romance” and is littered with titles referring to monarchies and periods of great imperial splendour ( “The Victorian Butter Boat,” “The Garden Was a Picture”). These allusions to spaces of happiness and plenitude ( “The Last Arcadian”) and of regression should in theory be towards childhood, like with Boards Of Canada – “The Owd Wedding March” could be a piece on the Scottish group’s EP “In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country”– and with so many others from the new young chill-wave crowd. But you have to take into account that Hodgson’s kingdom isn’t that of pop, although his music can be listened to with fluidity, in a state somewhere between alertness, hypnosis, and dismay. There is nothing trivial or premeditatedly relaxing in his cuts. There is, on the other hand, an abundant wellspring of references and a desire to squeeze the most from a production technique that is within the reach of few musicians who work in his same field, that of the sampledelic cut-up.
The difference between Moon Wiring Club and, for example, The Focus Group (the album shared by the group and Broadscast on the Ghost Box label last year) is in its level of esotericism. Hodgson isn’t obsessed with strange library music, or with the DVDs of the British Film Institute, and even less so with the golden age of radio effects on the BBC. Of course, there is something of this, but not exclusively: there are also bells and birds, old synthesisers, and music for babies. Their pieces aren’t gloomy or filled with spirits of the past, but are rather more adventuresome. If you want a literary comparison, while others are Ballard or Stapledon, he is more Jules Verne, and not only because of his constant identification with the proto-scientific and gentlemanly world of the 19th century, which leads him to take a trip around the world like Phileas Fogg, in eighty samples. At the same time, in the collage of “A Spare Tabby at the Cat’s Wedding” –the title is very Lewis Carroll, if you ask me– there is a very 30s sort of surrealism, pop-art in the illustration on the cover (by Kynaston Mass, like the other three albums that Moon Wiring Club has already put out) and the overlaying of different styles, from electro-acoustic to jazz, from proto-techno to bossa nova, from psychedelic to hip hop. Not in vain, the booklet indicates that all of the audio was captured in the “Curtain draped studio 1898-1981.”
Like “The Way Out” by The Books, this album is a labyrinth of sounds built patiently in a recording studio, following the techniques of the best hip hop samplers, but instead of funky breaks and chords funk, there are electrified clavichords, gummy prog-rock rhythms, disturbing synthesiser sounds, and the same kitsch science-fiction air that could be found on the albums that Sukia put out for the Mo’Wax label. There is no reason not to understand Moon Wiring Club. Although it is true that however easy they make it, in reality there is always a trap: try to buy the vinyl version of the album and the CD that I have commented on here. The titles are identical, but the music isn’t. If you are fascinated by parallel, alternative realities, do what I do and defend this little genius tooth and nail.