The English duo Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides (PWHMOBS) are developing increasingly masterful ways to create resourceful and radically organic textures. This LP is a standout document of their dynamic and unique improvisation, as every element seems to combine into a mysterious whole.
Essential to the success of this LP is the recording. Crucially, there’s some wool around the edges here, and the tape texture is reminiscent of listening to a classic film soundtracks. The quality of hearing a film soundtrack—not just musical, but environmental—is omnipresent here, conjuring all kinds of visual and narrative associations. Perhaps this is an obvious choice because of the flute, but I was reminded often of the music of Teiji Ito, onetime partner and collaborator to the avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren. Ito composed richly textured, ritualistic music, often for films like Deren’s seminal Meshes Of The Afternoon (1943). As in pieces like his classic Tenno, PWHMOBS feature the flute prominently, with Kelly Jones’ playing floating gracefully and ambiguously between Eastern and Western modes.
But the music as a whole is stunningly evocative. Opener “Rotational Bridalway” may be the most accessible of these pieces, featuring birdsong effects and flutelike feedback, which yield to a brief groove with gongs and flute. “Benighted Consciousness” starts with extensive delayed vocal sounds and speaking before bringing in the flute and some tastefully restrained percussion by Pascal Nichols. It never reaches a climax, but remains quite narrative and engaging. The resourcefulness is never less than compelling, even on the brief “Nucleaye,” which uses only wordless muttering and bongos to fascinating effect. “Foraging Tubers” includes light feedback and what sound like field recordings to paint an even more vivid picture of the sound environment. And “Ichthys” envelops the listener completely in a distant, pastoral soundscape based around a pensive flute improvisation, as if Jones is playing in a mystical clearing. Overwrought imagery aside, this is a really standout record of an extraordinary duo.