Album Reviews

Murcof – The Alias Sessions

(The Leaf Label) UK release date: 21 May 2021


Murcof - The Alias SessionsOver the years a sort of plurality has slowly emerged within the music of Murcof, as he broadened his core electronic sound to also take in contemporary classical influences while also involving himself in soundtrack works and collaborative projects. It feels apt therefore that Fernando Corona’s latest release under the Murcof banner is a double album that takes its origins from the world of dance.

These beginnings specifically date back to 2017, when Corona first linked up with choreographer Guilherme Botelho of the Alias dance company to talk about a new performance piece, as Corona explained in more detail in our recent interview. The main outcome was Corona ending up with a lot more music than he initially planned, hence the resulting double album.

The first half, Contre-Mondes, will feel familiar to anyone acquainted with Murcof’s earlier releases. Full of typically absorbing, low-key, atmospheric stretches of sound, at times it feels like the audio equivalent of observing the outer realms of deep space through a powerful telescope. Dandelion Heart features imposing electronic chords that appear like warning signals sounding out over abstract, grainy terrain. Unboxing Utopia has a foreboding rigidity to it, the digital crunch of marching footsteps eventually fading into the sepia-coloured distance.

As the album progresses spectral silhouettes appear on Nocturnal Sunrise before giving way to bubbling, meticulously cut sounds of Underwater Lament. Inevitable Truth might begin with quiet, linear tones but unfolds in a way that feels like we’re sifting through the fallout of some nuclear-induced incident. It might not be something you want to stick on to unwind and decompress to, but these are undeniably vivid and engaging sounds, stark in ways that cannot be ignored. 

Pieces (and titles) like Dropped Soul further add to the sense of unsettlement and displacement at being plunged into these remote, unusual, alien worlds. Similar can be said of Shadow Surfing, which starts with electronic cries into the void before being encircled by cold, sonic winds. As it unfurls, we sit back and await the end destination, reminded of how Murcof’s music has always elicited physical reactions.

The second part of the double album, Normal, might not be quite as roughly derived or distinct as the first but still adds a fascinating balance. In comparison to what has gone before, there’s almost a sense of proliferating expanse to Dividing Space while the undulating synths of Fire Thief momentarily position him unexpectedly alongside the likes of Jon Hopkins and Max Cooper. Systemic Amnesia is arguably the most representative track of the wider scale of the second half of The Alias Sessions while a degree of peace is instilled on closing tracks Unread Letter and Void Glance. Like the rest of the album, it’s easy to ascribe imagined cinematic contexts as you go along. 

There’s certainly a lot to unpack and digest on The Alias Sessions but, given the required time and focus, it further adds to Corona’s reputation as a masterful composer of electronic suites designed to captivate and provoke.


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More on Murcof
Murcof – The Alias Sessions
Murcof: “I feel attracted to music and sounds that evoke a sense of mystery or otherworldliness” – Q&A
Murcof – La Sangre Illuminada OST
Murcof – Cosmos
Murcof @ Peter Harrison Planetarium, London