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coverpic flag Netherlands - Full Moon 249 - 12/14/16

Mourning Elektra Slangwitch
Messy Riot
Seja Records

Mourning Elektra Slangwitch is another pseudonym for Messy og M.E.S.S.Y. On the Bandcamp site we can read that she 'is a Dutch artist who has been performing under the last name since 1985 and is active as an artist creating collages, sculptures, photographs, paintings, videos and music. Working solo and in bands in different kind of projects, she put a spell on her audience through what she calls "Messy Vocal Magic". Beside her solo career, she has been a member of several totally different projects/bands since 2000 like Angels Of Swing and Mutant Saints. We bumped into her in 2012 when we took a closer look at 4 In 1 Volume 3 where one of the four participants of the album was called Messy Goes Insane. Here she collaborated with Insane Music boss, one half of BeNe GeSSeRiT and main man behind Human Flesh etc. Alain Neffe. She has released several cassettes, CD-Rs etc. during the last four decades, some of it nicely presented on the M.E.S.S.Y. And Friends Anthology 1988-2013 CD-compilation on EE Tapes.

The new album comes in a very limited edition of 150 LPs, but can also be found on Bandcamp. And who knows, the album title might be a homage to a somewhat more groin focussed Russian punk and activist group...? Anyways, M.E.S.S.Y./Mourning E.S. paints landscapes with minimalistic means, with the vocal magic at the fore. Normally accompanied by either piano or synthesizer, seldom more than one of them involved in each song. Generally the piano songs, so to speak, are cleaner and prettier, while the synth tracks, the majority here, are bleaker and gloomier, even pretty eerie, now and again. The opening track "Shivers" is one of the exceptions in this respect, with piano backing, but also harsh synth beats in the 1980s tradition. The vocals on this are tormented and sound a bit like Diamanda Galás, the American tour de force of experimental vocal-based music in combination with keyboards of the 1980s and 90s, though not as theatrical as Diamanda. "Bonetrap", too, belongs among the harshest tracks of the album, at least partly. It starts quite quiet with washes of synths and spoken words, but the intensity and drama increase along the way, due to more noisy synths and operatic wordless backing vocals. The lyrics are not of the kind kind:

Talked down by the government, they got in my head.
Talked down by the government, I'll give them head instead.

So let me hear your bone crack, so let me hear you cry.
Your power has ruined us, I'll like to see you .. try.
Overruled by the government, ruling all my life.
So I say fuck you govern men, I like to see you cry.

Mourning Electra eases a bit further into the album, with less angry lyrics and vocals, with some similarities to the voice of Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard (in the somewhat pompous and echoed "Cope"), BeNe GeSSeRiT's Nadine Bal (in the synth-bubbling "Old Ways"), Björk (in the light and windy "Walling") and even Nico to some extent (in the laid-backed "Masterclass"). At other times, she sound more resigned, reflective or just quiet, like in "Hustler's Truth" with slow spoken words, "Here" with lots and "Harvest Of Hope" with a bit affected voice.

'I see hustlers all around truth, they talk so sweet,
And they surround us.'

Here's also the almost pretty piano ballad, sort of, the questioning and hopeful "Float" with both sung and spoken vocals and "Kill Or Love And Care" with a fascinating effect on the spoken words, like whispers through an echoed effect box.

Mourning E.S./M.E.S.S.Y. has been at the forefront of Dutch/European experimentalism and electronic music for decades. Judging from Messy Riot I can agree, especially when it comes to vocal experimentalism. It's a minimalistic and demanding album at the same time. There aren't any catchy choruses or traditional song structures here at all. Despite the instrumental minimalism there are still no easy ways out. Give it a chance and then a second chance and the tracks will begin to stand out and the overall album will turn really fascinating.

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