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Smagghe & Cross Ma Offen

Accompanying the promo copy of this record is a quote attributed to Andrew Weatherall. It’s full of artistic wisdom: “Magick for me is the carp in Herman’s monastery pond. Brief flashes of gold as I disturb the murky slit of memory.” I have no idea what any of it means, but the mystery is pleasing, and Weatherall’s words reflect the album well.

Field recordings are the building blocks with which the composing duo of Ivan Smagghe and Rupert Cross have constructed this conceptual house of mirrors, twisted beyond recognition but never less than beautiful. On Ostende Pt 2 for instance, a vicious barrage of noise dissolves to expose a rusty warmth. Heavy tones hang like fog on tracks like Slowdiving while Warren wheezes along, installing itself in your mind over its 12 minutes.

The pair serve up a delicious slice of bleakness in the grubby allegory of Cock Of The North (embellishing an extract from poet Adelle Stripe’s Big Weekend) before an understated and harmonious cover of Patrick Cowley entitled Somebody To Love Tonight ties up the LP. The slow pace of Ma can make it somewhat impenetrable, and it’s often as oblique as the art instillations it mimics. But it’s rewarding if you stick with it.