Album Reviews

Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Far West

(Important) UK release date: 10 June 2013


Master Musicians Of Bukkake - Far WestWhen the Totem trilogy came to an end, Master Musicians Of Bukkake had no option but to assess where their musical adventure might take them next. The Totem albums were primarily concerned with exploring the mysticism and musical phrasing of the East, but there were hints that the band might be looking elsewhere as trilogy came to a close when they employed a touch of European chamber music on 6000 Years Of Darkness.

So, bags packed and Sherpa booked, MMB hit the trail West. Naturally, there are changes in sound as they seek to explore new pastures, but there are still Eastern flavours to be found on the album. The early tracks in particular are shot through with cadences familiar to those who indulged in the Totem trilogy, suggesting that this is an album that serves as a travelogue as they move from East to West. The other explanation of course is that it’s a round world, and if you go West far enough, you’ll end up where you started. It’s a cyclical theme that pervades the album, right down to the cover artwork.

Starting off with a squall of electronic noise that leads into White Mountain Return, it’s clear that MMB are in a different country. It soon develops into a calmer affair; driven by an ominous pulse there’s a threatening heart pumping away as a faint strummed guitar comes to the fore. Its presence echoes Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here – a band whose influence on the album is considerable. There are nods to other “western” influences as the album progresses. There’s a guitar refrain that almost twists into The Simpsons theme tune, and the wobbling electro of The Who’s Baba O’Riley is called to mind during γη-νομος / GNOMI (a song whose “Turn around” vocal gives the otherwise laid back exposition a distinctly threatening feel).

This time around, MMB seem to be in thrall to the history of paganism and shamanic rites. That The Wicker Man has been noted as an influence is not altogether surprising, and there is a distinct pastoral flavour mixed in with notions of elemental ritual throughout the album; MMB do like their rituals, after all. So the hypnotic drum patterns of Arche make perfect sense. Combined with shimmering guitar parts, a shrieking horn that could well be a snake charmer’s pungi, and a keyboard part beamed in from 1970s sci-fi, it’s a confusing, disorienting melting pot of themes and geographic references, not all of it of this Earth.

Sat in the middle of the album is Cave Of Light: Prima Materia, the focus of MMB’s journey west. Musically it features yet more collisions of culture. Elements of prog rock clashes with colliery brass bursts, and repetitive guitar lines snake around choral vocal lines that seek rapture in the echoing caves but disturbingly also speak of dissolved bodies. It is a pertinent summing up of the experience of life in general; a journey that ends in the same way that every living being’s journey ends.

This is not, however, the end of Far West. The aching drone of You Are A Dream Like Your Dreamer: Dark Peace provides a throbbing meditative pause. Whether it’s intended to represent the afterlife, as The Haxan Cloak‘s Excavation album recently did, is anyone’s guess. The tone is similar however, and coming straight after a song that finds the travellers’ bodies dissolving, it seems likely.

However, MMB offer some hope; the lilting pagan folk of Circular Ruin finds a gathered crowd chanting “wake up, wake up you sleepers”, suggesting some kind of rebirth. That it occurs in a circular ruin only adds to the central theme of the album. It’s rare to applaud a band for going around in endless circles, but the depth Master Musicians Of Bukkake have achieved with Far West can only be commended.


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Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Far West


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