Angus MacLise - "Astral Collapse" CD (review)

Smothered Under Astral Collapse

For those of you who like Throbbing Gristle, Coil, William S. Burroughs, Aleister Crowley, magick and experimental electronics, this is right up your alley.

Angus Maclise was a composer, master percussionist, poet, mystic, calligrapher, occultist and former Velvet Underground member. His music runs the gamut of the experimental realm: drone, electronics & noise, tape cut-ups, spoken word, minimalism. Though he created a vast body of work from the 60's to 70's, it went unreleased, the master tapes sitting in a box in someone's closet. Only recently has his music been seeing the light of day via several releases on the Quakebasket label. The latest, Astral Collapse, compiles his more electronic/noise workouts:

Smothered Under Astral Collapse - Angus recites his Tibetan Buddhist poetry over prepared tape cut-ups. His source material for the prepared tapes is Tibetan chanting and some odd drum loops. The way he manipulates it gives it a really churning, eerie feeling.

6th Face Of The Angel - Pure droning. 17+ minutes of transcendant, tape-delayed organ with little intricate change ups in oscillation and resonance.

Beelzebub - This is the only percussion piece on the album. The way he plays the drums and then sonically treats the mix creates a feeling musique concrete or early electronic pulse music. it's very glitchy.

Cloud Watching - a beautifully sinister piece. it's a murky blend of organic instruments that just twinkle and drone along in a hazy impressionistic cloud.

Dracula - Trial by noise. Angus rips apart the air with an ARP modular synthesizer. This kind of destruction wouldn't be heard again until Coil's Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil.

Dawn Chorus - several layers of prepared tapes cut up into a collage of white noise, eastern drone and field recordings from the East. Angus leads us back into more Tibetan poetry before letting us go.

You can really hear the sound that
COIL would take on and expand. It foreshadows the concepts of Moon's Milk: Spring Equinox or Under an Unquiet Skull, Astral Disaster (they are eerily similar in more than just name) and Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil....to quote Jhonn Balance, Angus was a "liminal genius".

~Reviewed by: Philippe Landry (2/24/05)


**For more info, read an earlier post focusing on the history of Drones and on the genre's creator, LaMonte Young (teacher/mentor to John Cale & Angus Maclise), and LaMonte's "The Eternal Theater", etc.