Before the Big Bang theory came along to radically alter our perceptions of how the universe was created, something called the Steady State theory held a certain amount of critical sway. Steady State posited that new matter was created in proportion to the expansion of the universe; ensuring its average density would remain constant. Meaning, the observable universe (that we can see from earth) was basically the same at any time as well as at any place. Somehow, Steady State theory always pops into my mind when I listen to the works of Abul Mogard. His music - which comprises in the main of vast, slowly moving slabs of atonal but weirdly beautiful noise - could very well be the hum picked up on the receivers at Jodrell Bank.
The story of Abul Mogard is a fairly well known one. It concerns a man who spent most of his working life in a steel factory in former Yugoslavia and who has later taken up music to aurally replicate his factory days; with the aid of a modular synthesiser, Farfisa and a raft of digital effects. Replicating the strange sonic vibrations and afterthoughts that bounced off the steel plant’s walls has led to a remarkable creative echo over the decade. Connections and appraisals have come from all quarters.
And this release is, in some way, a (silent) acknowledgement of that. And We Are Passing Through Silently is a series of reworkings of tracks by the great and the good such as by Aisha Devi, Penelope Trappes, nick nicely, Becoming Animal’s Gordon Sharp and Irish folk legends Fovea Hex, whose monstrous slab of out-thereness called ‘We Dream All the Dark Away’ also boasts the guiding hand of Brian Eno.
Simply put, this is a beautiful record from the very first synthesized hum. The waves of noise that quietly press onto the listener have similarities with Jon Porras and a still, almost spiritual reflectiveness that has something of Henryk Górecki. But there’s something else, maybe something unique. Mogard’s vast oceans of sound frame the contributors’ music in such a way that you can see them in your mind’s eye as ornate driftwood, carried by the open sea. Indeed it’s debatable with Penelope Trappes’ ‘Carry Me’ or nick nicely’s ‘London South’ will ever beat the tide and return to shore.
There are so many transcendental moments on the LP it feels a bit churlish to list them all. But we should mention the blare of the faux trumpet sounds on Aisha Devi’s ‘O.M.A.’ sounding a bit like the magnificent opening moments on T-Dream’s Atem. It’s the kind of siren call Odysseus had to get strapped to the mast for. Then there is the reframing of Gordon Sharp’s brilliant vocal for ‘The Sky Is ever Falling’; a ghost dance which is full of suspense and drama, relying on subtle applications of pressure and tone.
Years ago, when this writer regularly worked with his hands for a living, the fans in the factory sheds would hum and brap with the same rhythmic cadence as some of the synth noises Mogard uses. It could put you into a trance. ‘Still’, or constant noises can often transport you to another plane, meaning any interaction can jar and break the spell. What is great about this record is the way Mogard’s vision on these reworkings - in its sheer steadiness - patiently and egolessly submits all sonic ingredients to a greater whole. This is best heard of the crushing closing track, Eno and Fovea Hex’s ‘We Dream all the Dark Away’; at one time a peculiar memory bubble floating up from Low’s ‘Subterraneans’, at another a hymn to the constant, silent inner/outer space world we can all disappear into, whenever we wish.
And We Are Passing Through Silently is out now via Houndstooth