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Album Review
Mother Rhythm Earth Memory

Mother Rhythm Earth Memory
by Cuticle

Not Not Fun

Review Date
19th April 2012
Reviewed by
Martyn Pepperell

Rave abstractionism, when you're talking about the world wide web of throwback rave acts curated by LA's Not Not Fun and their sister label 100% Silk, it's an easy term to use. After all, we're dealing with a hyperlinked network of artists, who while musically influenced by the early days of classic rave, house and techno, also feel aesthetically informed by early 90s CGI art (think: The Lawnmower Man, Wild Palms etc) and the visual imagery associated with peak era cyberpunk in all its manifest forms. Coupled with philosophical homage to the almost evangelical belief in the transformative power of cyberspace which ran rampant in that era (think: Mondo2000 magazine, Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberspace) this pool of overt (and spectral) influences presents a powerful creative palette, one which still presents untapped veins, poised and ready for artistic co-opting.

Sitting within this headspace, Mother Rhythm Earth Memory connects this overall aesthetic with a form of vocoder heavy synth-funk, one which owes a sonic debt to both the Zapp Band and Herbie Hancock at his most electronic. For Mother Rhythm Earth Memory architect Brendan O'Keefe, executing this project under his Cuticle alias is a chance to elevate beyond textural post noise, musically flying in full flight through a brightly coloured cyberspace soundworld Angel Studios would have been proud of.

'Night of Romance'

Keying in with the 90s aesthetic, Mother Rhythm Earth Memory's four word title also pays homage to work from a completely different lane in the same era, most notably Red Hot Chilli Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the king of four word album titles. Fittingly, Cuticle, O'Keefe's alias of choice for rave/cyberpunk abstraction, is the technical term for a tough yet flexible non-mineral outer covering of an organism. For example: our fingernails. And tough yet flexible is a key phrase here.

Seven songs deep, Mother Rhythm Earth Memory runs a wide gamut within it's still cohesive personal reality. Digital melodies and sub bass lap, ebb and flow, much like rivers or seas of mercury, washing through or against flickering circuit board cities and wharfs, covered in chips and LCD lights. Aside from this vividly warm, cybernetic orchestration, another key centrality is O'Keefe's smudged vocoder voice work, the literal ghost in the machine (in an elephant in the room way).

There is a lot to unpack here, and even more to digest. So, let's wrap up with a quick survey. 'Introduction - Parallel': Soloed vocoder leads into rainforest house, where the wines are closer related to downloading/uploading information than any plant. 'Liquid Crystal Drink (Pour My Dream)': Shuffling synth picks up some strut before O'Keefe sings like a camp robot, the song concurrently descending into a suitable soundtrack for any eighties movie about young kids going inside video games. 'Document Leak': P-funk meets deep juke with ambient undertones. 'Narc Girl': Bubbling, dynamic synth play driven by big bass stabs and a whole lot of bubbling tones. 'Trickle': Cyborg Zen Monks playing liquid mercury droplet music over a firm bass bed. 'Night of Romance': A Cuticle style Baronic Wall cover!

Rounding things out with the driving squelch of 'Without Form', from start to finish Mother Rhythm Earth Memory's consistent toughness and flexibility is its biggest weapon. A proviso though: despite the immersive depths reached, entry won't always be the easiest, but for those who make it through to the core, the singularitarian headspace obtainable is richly rewarding. Twenty three years ago we were promised Hoverboards. Mother Earth Rhythm Memory might not be able to gift us those, but in its own special way, it delivers us the future, as envisioned by the past.

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