Monos 'Age & Transformation/Aged & Transformed' 2CD
To say that this has been planned for some time would be a bit of an understatement. The original "Age & Transformation" was released by Darren Tate in 2004 on his own Fungal imprint - (and issued again in 2005). Both editions were released as CDRs in editions of 100 or so. Around 2006 the subject of doing a reissue was discussed...and discussed/planned/discussed ...and now 6 years later "Age & Transformation" with an exquisite Colin Potter remaster along with an entirely new piece"Aged & Transformed"remixed from the original is just about here. Darren's work has always been that of a drone eccentric -- and proof positive of that is the micro-editions released since 2003 on his own Fungal Records. True modern-day psychedelia, drawn out drone excursions, electric guitar scraping & expansion, synth noodling harbored into small private recordings for the chosen few. The limited number of those exposed to Darren's view --which was NOT intended to be exclusive -- just small updates as to where/what was happening with Darren in terms of gear, mood and circumstance. There is an inherent feel that little editing takes place - just captured recordings with the reel-to-reel on. Tate has worked extensively with other collaborators - Andrew Chalk (together known as Ora), Colin Potter (as Monos), Paul Bradley, Andrew Liles, Ian Holloway to name a few. Collectively a solid block foundation of great U.K. drone artists. In a collaborative setting, there may be a bit more judicious editing employed for better (or for worse) depending on where one sits in appreciation of refinement over improvisation. Which brings us to "Age & Transformation". Two tracks, both around the half-hour mark and presumably recorded in one take each. The first track (Untitled) contains all elements of what makes a Tate recording effective- gentle guitar scraping, echoed city recordings, air vibrations oscillating an overall nocturnal hush that shrouds the whole piece. The second track (again, simply "Untitled") is undoubtedly one of Tate's finest solo moments. A defining impressionistic recording from the middle of the night. It opens with the sound of a freeway - a very distant light traffic flow filtered through the forest. A lonesome organ sonata, languid chords with silence in between weave in and out at various points throughout. Tate sitting by the window capturing the sounds of the freeway, voices - haunting arias both human and industrial. The 2nd disc is a reworking by Colin Potter. Extracted from the quiet of "A&T", the first track "Aged" is an encapsulation of the entire recording with the small dervishes, organ melodies and drone wrapped up in an almost tidy nine minutes. The second "Transformed" - is over 40 minutes of water tower acoustic sustained tones, layered subtle guitar hum - a perfect complimentary refinement on a classic ambient improvisation. This is an edition of 700 copies. Each CD is packaged in a card stock envelope and then housed in a mini-lp gatefold Stoughton sleeve with matte finishing and spot gloss lettering. Designed by Timothy O'Donnell. **REVIEW FROM EXPERIMEDIA The first thing that is apparent about "Age & Transformation" is its shear scope. This is massive. Sprawling, if you will. There is nearly two hours of musical constructions spread across two discs and they are pieces that demand your attention. Intricate patterns are concocted through wrecked strings and the sounds of empty space. It's like touring the architectural graveyards of the industrial world. Creaking and crawling through time, finding the longest, most difficult paths to explore the past, Monos (aka Darren Tate) aural landscape is a deep and detailed place. Strings feel like they could shatter at any moment. Field recordings are layered and brought to life, unveiling a living, breathing cityscape that exudes a kind of organic urbanism. It all feels so simple yet momentous and beautiful. Wistful chords flow from a Rhodes piano (or maybe it's an organ... or maybe it doesn't really matter), dripping with nostalgic daydreams of life before the fall. This section, this wonderfully haunted aria toward the end of disc one, has the heaviest impact. It is heartbreaking in the best way. "Age & Transformation" is a grand treatise on all things elemental and industrial and the inherent symmetry between the two. - Brad Rose.***REVIEW FORM TOUCHING EXTREMES By Massimo Ricci November 1, 2012 It took six years for Monos to finalize this reissue, and indeed it was worth the wait. Age And Transformation first came out in 2004 but it still displays its currentness, warranting ear-grabbing spells to this day. Listening to it again – after Colin Potter’s enlightened re-mastering, for good measure – brought out a series of thoughts which, in turn, installed a somewhat melancholic mental climate. It all has to do with the very concept expressed by the title, coincidentally an issue that has been affecting this writer’s disposition in the last decade due to personal events that put him face to face with the physical and intellectual decay of persons met on a regular basis more often than he would have loved to. Anyhow, let’s not allow private tints to influence the assessment of the double CD, one of Tate and Potter’s finest ever releases (and, given the consistently high level of their output, this is an ambitious statement). The way in which the former manipulates guitars and keyboards (…radios, too?) amidst the neighbourhood’s noises coming from the outside – the whole massively filtered by effects along the chain to the recorder – makes me think of how indifferently nowadays we read rave reviews for unmeritorious attempts made with sounds from the “quotidian”, the word itself having become a recent trend. Among the different ways of handling reality, Monos have chosen that of an anamorphic representation of musical shapes and environments. The sound shifts, coils and tempts the listener with its unquestionably sui generis variableness. Slacked strings, distorted chants of birds, shapeless electronic flashes, engines and flanging echoes commingle in a single organism that gives a hard time to our sense of vigilance. Streams of vague frequencies spotted with rare allusions to domestic materiality and voices from remote regions of the ether are glued together in genuinely inspiring collages. The second disc contains a reworking of elements from the original album where Potter’s hand in the overall sonority is clearly heavier. Divided into two tracks of about 9 and 40 minutes respectively, Aged And Transformed appears as an ambiguously droning concoction of diverse components, where “drone” is a really reductive term to use in view of the many stratifications applied to the mix. This is especially valid for those segments in which pallid rays of sun manage to cut through a cloudiness apparently born from a million prayers gone to waste. The central section of “Aged” is perhaps nearer to a stifling musique concrete than anything else conceived by the duo, while large lumps of “Transformed” got me closer to Roland Kayn District, prior to stabilizing in a forbiddingly magnetic low-frequency based soundscape.