Monday, October 05, 2009


Scared of Ferret
Monte & Mae are best known for their work with Rollerball, an outfit that has been bouncing around the underground for nearly a decade and a half. Moodring is where Monte & Mae let their freakier jams reside, which is pretty freaking freaky considering the canon of material produced by the mother ship Rollerball. What started out as a side project for the couple has morphed into a full fledged band. In 2007 Jesse Stevens (OvO & Plants fame) joined the fold; he also acted as recording engineer on this album. Michael Braun Hamilton (Nudge/Momeraths) added some more spice to the secret sauce with his spaced out clarinet-ing & bass burbling. Strabage Hands (a.k.a. Shane “Bunny” De Leon a.k.a. Miss Massive Snowflake) designed the beautiful black & white packaging the CD resides in. Shane was in Rollerball for a good chunk of its existence.

“Scared of Ferret” is an appropriate name for this disc. That animal has always given me the willies. There is something spooky, visceral and feral about Moodring’s music. Moodring creates these great claustrophobic grooves that slither and slide between the cracks in the haunted basement of one’s mind. Mae’s vocal range can go from angelic to demonic (in a good way). Jesse’s drumming give form and forward movement to these spectral druid jams. The drumming allows Monte & Mae to go way out there in their “melting the cheese on the radiator” as Brother JT would say, while Jesse makes sure they keep on trucking. Monte Bass burbles & bleats while Michael adds to space drip-page with his sonic sloshing of his clarinet, much like the role that Shane had when he was in Rollerball.

“Pole Cat Intro” features some ghostly mumblings, keyboard blubbering, percussion clattering and spaced-out flute before seamlessly transitioning to “Rintin Fire.” The basketball percussion, washes of static and Mae’s disembodied vocals creep along the ground like a thick fog on some forsaken wasteland. #9 sounds like it could be a Rollerball outtake, with the gypsy accordion & Mae’s gorgeously delayed vocals. The clarinet gives an eerie eastern European feel to the song. “Shaker Tab” features the sound of a toy keyboard dying with a propulsive house beat; the discordant elements somehow meld into a slightly insane driving, maddening, yet pleasing mix. “The Weasel” is a kraut-rocking jam that features Monte’s stellar space bass grooves and Mae’s back-masked vocals, which seem to collapse in the black hole created by the heavy grooves. My favorite track on the disc by far is Into the Doom. A simple loop slides on down the path and is joined by clarinet, bass & drums. Mae’s vocal are soon too on the march. Another bird-like theremin sound floats above the mix. The song fades out as the parade finally passes.

This album is a great addition to the Moodring catalog. I think the guest performers add depth, space and movement to their other-worldly jams. The music is dense and complex, chilling yet pleasing. This music is perfect for autumnal nights when you want to get your spook on.
(Silber) (Dan Cohoon)