One Touch Of Venus

Highly experimental rock-noise thing from the English combo Mosquitoes, with their album Vortex Veering Back To Venus (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS FTR466). The threesome is Clive Phillips, Dominic Goodman, and Peter Blundell – I recognise the name of Blundell as he used to be in Temperatures and Leap-Seconds, whose records we heard around the earlier end of the 2000s, and which I seem to recall were pretty “testing” experiences as regards listener expectations. There was briefly (in 2018) a band called Komare which I missed, featuring both Blundell and Goodman, though so far they haven’t got further than one cassette and a single.

Mosquitoes – nothing to do with the Jad Fair Mosquito band featuring Steve Shelley and Tim Foljahn – are based in London and have been scraping their ankle-bracelets together since 2013 now, with a few physical emanations in the form of singles self-released in tiny editions, and an online release of their 2017 appearance at Cafe Oto. What strange and dark instrumentals on Vortex Veering Back To Venus…no titles, just two-letter codes used to identify everything…and each cut quite short, rarely exceeding the four-minute mark, suggesting they can’t or won’t sustain this level of intensity and blanked-out puzzlement for very long periods. Well, they seem intent on rewriting the rules of avant-rock from the ground up, remaking everything on their own terms. For one thing, there are vocals, but they’re incomprehensible – odd clipped phrases are half-spoken, half-sung, in desultory fashion, not making any sense and not sung in any recognisable language. There’s one alienating strategy for you. Secondly, the sound of the instruments is often pretty bizarre, particularly with regard to the nasty scraping lead guitar (if that’s what it is), the player deliberately evading any recognisable sound or familiar move. The tastiest thing for me is the dynamics of the playing – lots of space, lots of odd rhythms, which leads to the creation of some vague negative space within the fabric of each tune. This might be taken by a normal band as a cue to fill that space with something interesting, but Mosquitoes clearly prefer to leave the blanks as they are, unfilled.

The overall effect of hearing this short but intriguing album is quite the mind-sapper; the band pass on a state of bewilderment and incomprehension. Coley’s press note likens them to This Heat, Mars, and Suicide, but to my mind a closer match would be Two Daughters (whose complete works was recently reissued by Vinyl On Demand) – it passes on the same feeling of alienation and blankness. Some listeners may find themselves disappointed by the seemingly bored and unengaged manner in which this music is played, but I suspect that too is part of the general plan. It cements the notion of an emotional disconnect; there’s really nothing to get excited about any more. 12-incher which plays at 45 RPM, so might be classed as a mini album; there’s already a second pressing, in mint vinyl. From 5th September 2019.

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