Good Music We Can Know

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Exotica Concrète: The Dead Mauriacs – Beauté Des Mirages


I meant to post about this the second it came out, because I was so excited, but as usual I'm slightly late to the unveiling.  Better late than never, I write now to announce that the new Dead Mauriacs LP is out on Discrepant, and it's spectacular. 

I'll get this out of the way now: I did the cover art, and I think it looks really great, and goes well with the music on the record, and I'm very proud of it.  It's a collage I did last year, called Desert Song: The Sheik Manifests in the Garden (As the Green Man of Lore), really with no intention of using it for anything design-wise, but when I heard this record, which is itself all about illusions and disruptive intrusions in the paradisal exotic fantasia, it obviously resonated.  But I want to talk about the music for a minute. Anyone familiar with my own collage work and ideas regarding the complex subtextual landscape of exotica (and its relationship to Surrealism) will understand my enthusiasm and admiration for this record, which is in many ways specifically in line with those ideas.

The Dead Mauriacs are a mysterious French entity specializing in exotica concrète (mixing samples of exotica records with musique concrète strategies); all their releases are absolutely essential listening, especially with regards to anything that might be called contemporary exotica.  This new release, entitled La Beauté Des Mirages, is a tremendous panorama, a wide-screen sound collage from pieces of original exotica.  It lulls you into dream-state phantasmagoria and then tears at the fabric of fantasy with disturbing juxtapositions, discontinuities, and abrupt shifts.  In these moments of rupture, it's as though you're being asked to wake from the dream, but you're being pulled deeper into it, into feverish places where the utopian surface cracks and falls apart, revealing subtextual demons and chimeras of contradiction – the otherwise unaddressed colonial nightmare and industrial alienation that serves as the unacknowledged foundation for tiki and exotica's escapist pleasures.  I like to think Georges Bataille would have liked this record, that it aligns with his notions of ethnographic surrealism.  And I think someone like Martin Denny – who once described exotica as "a modern sound that evokes some very primitive feelings" and "pure fantasy," and always understood the total absurdity of it all – would love it too.  Maybe I say that because I love them both, and I love this, but they're as good a pair of reference points as any in describing the Dead Mauriac's sound.

This is not the first Dead Mauriacs release to treat exotica to exhilarating reconstructions and radical interventions – the last release, also on Discrepant, is excellent, as are Nouvelles Fonctions Exotiques, and the wonderful The Golden Age Of Artificial Inflatable Islands Or Ecstatic Free Love In A Ballardian Dystopia (and everything else I've heard). 

So check it out, explorers: Beauté Des Mirages


While you're at it, let me plug once again the other two Discrepant LPs I've done art for: Visions Congo, Mulago Sound Studio & Mike Cooper, Reluctant Swimmer / Virtual Surfer, because they're both absolutely brilliant, revelatory records that I personally love putting on the turntable and letting myself get sucked into their scenic soundstage and dreamy otherworldliness.  I've been lucky to do art for music this good, this adventurous.  Future projects are in the works, stay tuned.  (And if you have good music, get in touch with me, I'll make art for you too.) 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very cool. Congratulations on the excellent collage art cover (one of your best). I wish those other two releases you mentioned were downloadable (especially the one with the Ballard reference) -- I don't see them listed elsewhere; and digital is my only way of listening to music these days while I'm working abroad. If you have other recommendations feel free to contact me.