The heavy bass riffs hit you in the chest, the charged sparkling virtuosity of the guitar soars through the venue and the unbelievable range of Moe´s vocal hits your eardrums when you attend a gig with the duo MoE on stage. Is it possible to convert the passion and intensity from the stage into a 42 minutes album? Yes, it is when you are MoE. A clear-cut production rises out of the chaos they make. It is not without reason that an exhibition dedicated to these musicians at the music museum Rockheim in Norway is called We Who Loved Chaos.
When forming MoE in 2008, Guro S. Moe and Håvard Skaset were both educated and experienced musicians, festival curators based in different scenes like noise, experimental jazz, improvisation and with countless collaborations both in Norway and around the world. Some may have seen them backing Årabrot too. They have toured the world, four continents, 35 countries, with their avant-garde anarchistic punk-rock based intense music. And released abundance of albums. You should read our fascinating in-depth interview with Guro S. Moe.
Their new album The Crone is, just as the previous one, filled with unpredictable shifts and turns. The title song starts with heavy slow riffs from the bass guitar and swirling cymbals. It gives way to sound effects and slow bass and drum when a whispering voice begins to recite the lyrics “trousers dresses flesh meat/old woman sore feet”. The voice is pulsating, suggestive and rises a bit before heavy guitar riffs join and drive the track forward. Around the three-minute-mark, the vocal comes back extremely strong and with some dissonance. The music changes to slow pace, the soft-spoken words are back joined by the bass drum. This very diverse ten minutes-song is not only a good example of the explosive vitality that is MoE, but it is also a showcase of the extreme and impressive range of Guro S. Moe´s vocals.
The next track “My Cold War” consists of an intense recital of a poem over circling distorted guitar before coming to an abrupt stop. And this might be what this album is all about; it is a vehicle for Guro S. Moe´s poems. The poems are like the music: unafraid play with words, making constellations you did not think possible, researching and testing the language as they are researching the borders of their musical ambitions and visions with the urging voice saying “time will steal us from ourselves”.
The third song ”Beautiful Stranger” opens with sound effects before some sore vocals begin to influence the heavy sludge avantgarde music. Violins take over the soundscape accompanying an almost teasing voice reciting the lyrics, before the sludgy bass and guitar are back with the drums and strong vocals reciting in dissonant mode “release the sharks/construct again my heart/beautiful stranger come strangle me”. This song is versatile and a bit unsettling with its duality as the heavy music turns into soft, beautiful strings accompanying the line “construct again my heart”.
”Silver Lining” starts with a commanding spoken voice over fuzzy heavy bass before a distorted dark guitar joins in. There is a maelstrom of effects both high and deep behind the strong voice. The music turns to dark wave, but with glittering sound effects swirling around. A snare drum rises and gives some rhythm to the intense distorted and dissonant music which support the voice reciting the words. We are thrown into the next track ”The Obscure” which is an instrumental showcase of the electrifying guitar work that runs through this album. It is a heavy sludge track with guitarplay born from Hendrix´ and Rypdal´s combined influence as it plays like there are short cuts to these two in the backline.
At first the next track, ”The Obscure”, feels like it could have been the start of a Sâver track, with a heavy prominent and melodic bass accompanied by chugging guitars. It soon leaves that path with a background of unpredictable shifts and turns to support the hard, reciting and singing vocals. It soon disappears into an echo filled segment before the vocals rise hard and strong out of it dragging the dissonant sonics with it before it all fades into dark waves and dissappears.
”White Rose (Monster)” closes the album and starts with foreboding and floating string instruments, in between them the voice begin to whisper “so much of me/rocks calls to a hand/slide out adjust the water”. When you least expect it the drums, bass and guitar hit your eardrums. The voice is not affected by these hard onslaughts. The song trudges forward and a bit into the track the voice rises up strong and solid, never breaking. There is chaos behind it all, but the steady rhythm section controls the chaos before it all fades away.
To convey their musical visions MoE are always collaborating with the most talented musicians and that is true for this release too. The musicianship, the visions and ideas that this album passes on, through both music and words, are so impressive that it might leave you a bit out of breath. You never leave this music untouched.