Dead Voices on Air, From Labrador to Madagascar

Dead Voices on Air, From Labrador to Madagascar

Gadamer states in Truth and Method that the experience of the work of art “always fundamentally surpasses any subjective horizon of interpretation, whether that of the artist or that of the participant.” If we hold this maxim as true, then few listenable musical compositions that I have heard surpass Dead Voices on Air’s new album, From Labrador to Madagascar, in terms of pure artistic experience.

Led by the prolifically post-modern British psychiatrist Mark Spybey, whose penchant for ambient experimentalism has brought him into the company of such bands as Pigface, Faust, and I Am Spoonbender, DVOA bring the listener sounds that exist free from possible distinction. Seeming to come from the cavernous laboratory of some unintelligibly muttering Mad Scientist who performs experiments on flies using dentist drills, the first half of the album teleports the listener to a strange special temporality that leaps across the meridian of thought. Art destroys reality in space and time, and Jacques Derrida’s comment on perspective, “Discontinuous return and round of the hours, the here of the clock hand spaces the now,” is reduced to ash.

This conveyance across the meridians of temporal being presents itself in the title, From Labrador to Madagascar, as much as it does in the music. Progressing beyond the aforementioned laboratory via shrill sounds suggesting cybernetic transportation, the music enters a new planetary spirit of rhythm, interpolated from some transcendent electronic pulse, and of spirituality, provided by meditational intonation. The soft, priestly tones carry through the rest of the album like light through the interstices of a trellis covered in vines, until it gradually subsumes the album, sharing the locus of music with only a gently humming organ.

The soothing chant acquiesces to the sharp sounds indicative of telecommunications and the horrible mutterings of an incoherent human, providing a reminder of the fear and trembling of the initial stages of the album. The scary part only lasts a few minutes, however, before the the natural world reasserts itself with rich textures of African drumming and the strange, animalistic sounds of horns and conches.

Having traveled through a constellation of dreams, one leaves the album with his or her own bivouac pack of dreams intact, knowing that none could have experienced the work of art through the same ears. The only problem with the album lies in the sometimes-chaotic feeling of detachment, provided by Spybey’s haywire technological noise, but if you have patience for ambient music at all, DVOA’s From Labrador to Madagascar will not let you down.

(Invisible Records -- P.O. Box 16008, Chicago, IL. 60616;; Dead Voices on Air --
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Review by . Review posted Saturday, January 27th, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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