Meson
Obscurer Subjectivity
Discus 144CD
(2022)
Available formats: CD/DL

 

“Planet Gong seems in sight, I can see Daevid Allen smiling by the light of a Camembert Electrique and I must say that I’m very pleased too.” – Guido Montegrande, FREE JAZZ BLOG

“Black sonic magic, realized by a motley crew of sonic alchemists at the peak of their respective powers.” – Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery NYC

“A stunning result, with a striking aspect that hooks us up from the first listen.” – Guy Stuckens, RADIO AIR LIBRE

Truly delicious recording of finely wrought, diverse soundscapes that leave you wanting more.” – Mr Olivetti, FREQ

A new Meson collection delivering Bo’s unique poetic perspective over spontaneously created grooves and drones which fans of Gong, The Fall, and all points in between are likely to enjoy. As ever, Bo’s lyrics confound and confuse all expectations by being simultaneously serious, frivolous and often hilarious.  The seasoned group of improvising rock musicians provides a perfect ever changing backdrop for the words.

“It was mid-January. Sarah, whose work I’d admired for a while but never worked with, was leaving Sheffield (and England) and we would have only the chance for one session at 77 Studios – this album is it.  Apart from being arrested for shoplifting part-way through recording we really enjoyed the process, but I found it difficult to mix until Andy gave me a swift ‘talking-to’ to the effect that I was being ham-strung by the petitio principii that consciousness is the decisive element that makes subjectivity appear out of nowhere.

Everyone improvised here, though my ad-libbing was merely in the form of plucking lines from some of my poems, as suggested by the sounds produced by my collaborators and adding fragments, as I recall, from Janet Ahlberg, Samuel Beckett, Hunter S. Thompson, a few lines that I worked on years ago with Mike Reid and, probably, from almost everyone else that I have ever read, listened to and/or met – you are all to blame! ;-)” – BO

Bo Meson – voice
Andy McAuley – guitar
Jez Creek – synthesizers
Martin Archer – saxophones
Peter Rophone – bass
Sarah Palmer – cello

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Reviews

Words surrounded by music or words led by a music that surrounds them, words and music like the rhythm of life. Bo Meson’s words are immersed in the music made by guitarist Andy McAuley, synthesist Jez Creek, saxophonist Martin Archer, bassist Peter Rophone, and cellist Sarah Palmer and their output is conceived as a non-interrupted flow (the digital version of this record presents also the option to listen with no tracks breaks), a stream of a consciousness both in words and in music. Hypothesis: was William Borroughs right and language is a virus from outer space? Every track deconstructs language structures trough repetition and fragmentation reminiscent of Steve Reich works, but they also deconstruct musical references with melodies and rhythms that dissolve into noises or into silence or into one-another. Fragmentation is the key both for music and discourse. Apart “We Are Not” (in which a pervasive bass marks a pervasive 1984 vision depicted in what is like to be the most structured text) the other episodes are characterized by splinters of sentences supported by a music which moves along the same lines. “Alternative Pope” may be the manifesto of the whole album, words laying on a catchy layered riff and developing meandering sentences – but I will never be too old to be too young – … – time reels out -… – a camera with obscurer subjectivity represents a transcendental hyperspace, an infinitely regressive point of view – … – I am intentionally blank so that only you can read me – Words like music and – time reels out – So when in “Chronological Quantum Leap” we hear ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,’ we are quite familiar with words but music is something else, we are somewhere else and we must be careful because the next section reminds us “We Are Not Here” and the final episode mixes physics (Gravitons) and pseudo-physics or better pataphysics (phlogistons). A sax riff leads the dance of the words until everything slows down and what remains in the end are some familiar noises maybe a teaspoon picking up the last grains of sugar from a tin-can. Silence. Planet Gong seems in sight, I can see Daevid Allen smiling by the light of a Camembert Electrique and I must say that I’m very pleased too. – Guido Montegrande, FREE JAZZ BLOG

Wild, wooly, wet, wacky, and quite wonderful new outing from Discus’s primo sound-warping sextet, led by arch poet/spoken word maven Bo Meson. Eccentric is but one mild way to describe the spontaneous wordplay, improvisational acrobatics, and general weirdness to be found percolating across this bafflingly odd disc. Behind Meson’s stream-of-consciousness phrasing lurks guitarist Andy McAuley, synthesist Jez Creek, saxophonist Martin Archer, bassist Peter Rophone, and cellist Sarah Palmer, all of whom lend their distinctive talents forthwith, every bit the aural analogs to Meson’s otherworldly warblings. Channelling Mark E. Smith, Damo Suzuki, Captain Beefheart, Copernicus, and other like-minded vocal gymnasts, Meson’s cut ’n’ paste techniques surely echo that of Burroughs, Beckett, et al, but like those chaps he’s got some folks behind him with real chops. “Doors of Deception” finds Meson’s antics chanted and filtered through some crazy fourth-world aesthetics in front of Creek’s prismatic electronics, processed often beyond recognizable syntax, en route to hitherto hallucinogenic worlds. “Chronological Chronic Jump” features Meson in a more lively setting, his slowly bubbling syllables coming to full boil as electronics hum and buzz like van de graaff generators, guitar strings are hammered and wrestled into awry, wheezy shapes, and all manners of atonal sounds are scattered to the four winds like radioactive ash. Though the record flows like one long, psychotronic piece, tracks stand out, like the peripatetic “We Are Not Here”, Meson’s twisted tale of dank corridors and gothic travelogues accompanied by Archer’s strangulated cries and his cohort’s similarly wrecked tones, constantly forming new shapes and colors right before your very eyes/ears. Black sonic magic, realized by a motley crew of sonic alchemists at the peak of their respective powers. – Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery NYC

Meson are a collective of improvising musicians with an everchanging membership that coalesces around the creativity of Bo Meson – who describes himself as a metaphysicist. The subject matter of the pieces are hinted at by titles that include ‘Frack off’ (track 3), ‘Doors of deception’ (track 4), ‘Chronological quantum jump’ (track 7) and ‘Gravitons and phlogistons’ (track 9). On this recording six musicians collaborate to improvise settings for Bo Meson’s richly evocative and disturbing words. Fragments of words spoken in a variety of voices (with additional sources identifiable, to me, traces of Janet and Alan Ahlberg’s children’s stories and Samuel Beckett plays, but probably other snippets blended with Bo Meson’s peculiar sense of meaning and linguistic order). The speech frames the rhythms and patterns of the music and calls to mind a host of composers who have explored this (for me, this includes Harry Partch and Steve Reich). The borrowing of the words ‘Lucy in the Sky’ (without much trace of their familiar musical settings but with a repeating rhythm that sets the metre for the piece) on ‘Chronological quantum jump’, gives the opportunity for Bo Meson to push a variety of perspectives on how and why Lucy might be where she is. The repeated lyric ‘I maybe the pope in an alternate universe… but I will never be too old to be too young… I am intentionally blank so that only you can read me’ (‘Alternative pope’, track 5) shows the twisted logic of the words, but this doesn’t tell you how the musical settings are able to present the words in such ways that they feel as if they make complete sense. This song, in particular, drew me back to the experimental electronic bands from Sheffield in the 1980s – I’m thinking ClockDVA and Caberet Voltaire in particular – but whereas those bands tended to foment their sounds from the nascent synthesizers of the time, Meson’s analogue instruments (albeit through the plethora of effects used by each player) creates something that sounds more alien, intriguing and, paradoxically, warmer and more human. – Chris Baber.JAZZ VIEWS

Poet and singer Bo Meson has surrounded himself with some English musicians to record the album “Obscurer subjectivity”. The struggle of interpreting lyrics to experimental improv rock music. For a stunning result, with a striking aspect that hooks us up from the first listen… – Guy Stuckens, RADIO AIR LIBRE

The second album from Bo Meson this year finds his focus reverting to his own unstructured universe, taking the final opportunity to work with cellist Sarah Palmer before she departs these shores. That impetus finds Bo and the assembled players taking one long improvised run at the assorted material, plucked from various ruminations and ad-libbed like a music hall spectre; dramatic, arcane, sultry and expressively effervescent. The group seeps and slips through icy streets, Bo’s voice with a similar tenor to David Bowie in places, partly surprised by the drama unfolding around him, folds in on itself, synthetic effects clawing and squeezing. The textured backing is like misty droplets, a slick, kaleidoscopic sheen that reflects details against the light. His playful declamations are unpredictable, chopped and tossed, appearing and disappearing as the group constructs primal, rootless havens: “My glass is so half-full that it overflows … with revenge”. A great line delivered with the tendrils of Sarah’s cello lasciviously curling. The rhythm section scuffs and skips while Andy McAuley‘s romantic guitar, its doomed destiny in cahoots with the lines, delivered with a twisted pleasure, sucking on the words like spaghetti as Martin Archer‘s sweet sax offers support. A hallucinatory whirlpool appears, dividing up more structured pieces, evoking the group’s experimental leanings and desire to work everything into this final burst, a swansong of sorts. The idea that Bo might be pope in an alternate universe is delivered in an unstructured yet considered scat and then we are tapping lightly at the doors of funk with Peter Rophone‘s lovely, slinky bass leading the way, Bo coming on like Dr John appearing as a Bond villain. The tracks run into one another with the voice changing surreptitiously to herald these artistic swerves, the group heading up some new alley or across weed-strewn lots, abandoned to the ravages of time, the guitar archaic and spindly like a freakshow throwback, hunched and gnarled. Peter’s bass regains the composure and Martin’s sax elevates and the poetry is powerful and beautiful, but ultimately skewers you with its distorted seduction, the highlights textured with Jez Creek‘s synth tendrils constantly searching. All this gently rolling turmoil has fractured precedents, but the unique mix of players and the hasty, heightened circumstances make this an unexpected and truly delicious recording of finely wrought, diverse soundscapes that leave you wanting more. The fact that there won’t be makes them only more poignant. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ https://freq.org.uk/reviews/meson-obscurer-subjectivity/

Meson for the third. Almost exactly one year after the release of “The Tao Of Cwmdonkin Drive”, Bo Meson released another album in November 2022. Again, his voice is at the center of the music, embedded in all sorts of electronic, jazzy and this time also clearly rocking instrumental accompaniment, generated by electric guitar, sax, synthesizer, bass, drums (for which no one is responsible in the cast list) and cello. “Obscurer Subjectivity” has been released again by Discus Music, packed in a space-saving multi-folding cover. Meson’s lyrics are apparently freely improvised this time (he calls it ‘ad-libbing’), but can be found on the inside of the cover. As already mentioned (see my review of “The Tao Of Cwmdonkin Drive”) I am not particularly interested in lyrics and see the voice as another instrument that is integrated into the music. This is also possible here. Meson varies extensively the character of his recitations (timbre, expression, timbre), even within a number. Sometimes you could almost call it singing, often rough and bluesy-roaring, so that you have to think of Beefheart, or Edgar Broughton (you can hear e.g. “Alternative pope” or the final “Gravitons & Phlogiston”). All sorts of matching weird-plinging electric guitar lines and howling sax interludes even reinforce this impression. The music is also very rhythmic, bluesy-rocking, punky-wave-like, obliquely avant-prognging or pithy jazz-rocking. But there are also various places of free clay tinkering and electronic hovering and waves. In the long “We are not here” it is finally quite spacey-psychedelic, the synthesizers waft and howl and the music echoes cosmically. Meson sings again and again of a ‘tropical fish’ … an allusion to gong (see “Camembert Electrique””)? “Obscurer Subjectivity” offers a very unique, sometimes very impressive mixture of voice, electronics, jazz and rock, which this time has been merged into a truly homogeneous whole, especially voice and music. The album has a completely different character than its direct predecessor, works a lot more progressive, adventurous, rocking and colorful, sometimes surprisingly edgy. Avant-prog freaks and adepts of weird electronic constructs without aversions to sonorous text recitations should often get their money’s worth here. – Achim Breiling http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de/album_20760.html#oben

Poetry is a function of speed with hy-burbley and google-entendre perpetrated by chthonic tech-girl/boy nut-jobs, Bo MESON leaves no doubt about that. And leads, after most recently “The Tao of Cwmdonkin Drive” as a tribute to Dylan Thomas, with Obscurer Subjectivity (DISCUS 144) down… The Dark Rabbit Hole. Or higher – my brain ‘s a flying saucer and it takes me to the stars. His half-full glass flows above… with revenge, his mouth goes over him with his stomach contents in yellow Bow, as a sinner with a future or a saint with a past, plagued of homesickness and hypochondria. The attempts at a consistent ethic-aesthetic are paved with betrayals or pathetic survivals for the bourgeoisie and the petit bourgeoisie – the proletariat doesn’t have parties only rhythmic funerals. Nevertheless left key data correspond in this stream of Cosciousness with the brain’s Constellation Cryptogram Almond Bread Map Celestial Chalice Rim Double-bubbles fuse at the junction pulsating galactic core of perfection. Not the universe, the Earth is fundamentally unfamiliar in its kaleidoscopic complexity, unique diversity and diversity. She is the Jacob who does not let go of us when We do not bless them. Meson’s prose flow juggles cat’s eyes and an old wolf’s itch, with ‘Gravitons & Phlogiston’, where traditional dualistic explanations are losing ground in favour of the performative concept. Meson focuses on Subjectivity, and his flow of words is intuitively echoed by Andy McAuley – guitar, Jez Creek a.k.a. Modulator ESP – synthesizer, Martin Archer – Saxophones, Peter Rophone – bass and Sarah Palmer – cello. Unlike Steve Days Recitatively, Meson’s performance is a theatrical mixture of raukehlig sung and spoken sentences, embedded by processing in a Soundscape mixed from psychelik and electronica with weirder manner poppy, rock and jazzy ingredients. To call it ambidelic post-folk and progbebop (in Valium) testifies to the same indescribability as to frankenstein something from Hawkwind and Copernicus. You can read me easy as that platitude on a see-saw as a physical interpretation of time. I’ll come with you the amazement hardly about what is going on there, about what they dare. Very British, here in the good at the opposite pole to the Toryesken. – Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY

The crew spontaneously creates their multi-layered textures to accompany the texts spoken by voice with a slightly electronically treated voice. The atmosphere is overall a little psychedelic and warm. Grooving from time to time. ‘We are not here” is built from noisy and spacey textures. ‘Chronological Quantum Jump’ plays with ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ from the Beatles. Sometimes their improvisations evoke memories of New Wave. The Pop Group popped up, for example. – Dolf Mulder, VITAL WEEKLY

This is really wicked but interesting with all sorts of ways to use the voices in a sorta outta-control space rock adventure like DAVID BOWIE meets TUSK – FLEETWOOD MAC, which is basically 1970s experimental weirdness, and FRANK ZAPPA would be proud for sure. There’s some HAWKWIND and heavy blues influences as well, but don’t expect anything like the aforementioned acts, because it is still sounding different than anything you can imagine! The use of a minimalistic dark industrial-like sound in the background in combination with the experimental voices, makes MESON one of the most unique acts around these days. They are as unique as last year’s HENGE, so there is an alien-like approach here as well! – Strutter’zine

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