Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Alligator Crystal Moth: Magic Swamp Kingdom

     It's time to get back to reviewing indie albums that nobody really knows, I think! 'Magic Swamp Kingdom' from Alligator Crystal Moth is a free-folk, experimental effort from duo Brad Rose and Micheal Donnelly, both of whom have worked on other similar records, and which is available for download from their page over at FMA. I'd think twice before heading over, though.
     This album is a fusion of the experimental and folk, which should have been made with magnificent soundscapes in mind, but instead leaves the listener rather confused and dizzied by it's manic and crazed mix of sounds. Throbbing, fluctuating drones are splattered in wierd effects and off-kilter, lo-fi glitches that ends up taking you to another place. That place is a suffocating room of people; spend too long in there and you need to rush out for air.
    One track is an open window in this busy room, though: 'Kerosene Hat'. There are some pretty good guitar riffs and vocals present on this track, which is the only one to have any singing. Due to this, Rose and Donnelly have had to tune the weirdness right down, for the lyrics to be understandable. There is still a slight reverb to the track, but it is a lot more pleasant. If you were to download a track from this album, make sure it's this.
     By far the worst track on the album, 'Of Lions and Kings' is a sheer contrast to that of 'Kerosene Hat'. The song starts of nicely enough, with wind effects and a good guitar tune, be it with an ominous feel that slowly escalates into a massive wall of noise. This, in a short space of time would have been interesting and possibly the best track on the album, but the song weighs in at an incredible eight minutes. Most of that time is choked in the duo's headache inducing glitchy drone. I kid you not, I skipped forwards a few minutes on my second listen-through.
     Don't get me wrong though. Some songs, such as the second, have a great Asian vibe, from the pipes to the drums. There is also an atmosphere to this record that I haven't seen before, even if it wasn't the easiest to listen to. There is a dark, eerie quality to some of the songs that a few might enjoy, and the experimentation is there. These factors, however, are not enough to carry the sound of this album as a whole. Alligator Crystal Moth is trying too hard to create something deep and provoking, and as such the album comes across as muddy, bustling and cramped. I'm pretty sure the duo could have created something equally imaginative with a lot less instruments. As free record, I wouldn't pay money for it, but feel free to check it out for yourselves at the link above.