Mt Judge – Time Machines (Adult Teeth Recording Company)
A deep, but gorgeous, album of ambient soundscapes.
Timothy Leary once stated about LSD that it was important to think about “set and setting” before embarking on a ‘trip’. Well, in many ways the same can apply to the consumption of music. Many albums can pass a listener buy with them not thinking to highly of it, but when the right conditions occur (maybe heartbreak, maybe gorgeous happiness) an album can finally ‘click’ with the listener and they can finally concede to loving the music.
The reason I mention this is I feel it is important to explain that I am currently suffering from the dreaded man ‘flu (it’s real I tell ya) and am writing this from the confines of my bed staring out at a grey Welsh day. Now, I’ve listened to Mt. Judge’s Time’s Machines album a few times already (and really liked it), but this time something magical has occurred.
The set and setting have coalesced into making a good album into a great one. I have finally heard the nuances that add depth and emotion to the piece. Of course, I’m not suggesting you now go out and stand in the rain in the hope to catch a cold just so you can enjoy this album, I am just saying for this writer, the timing from my original listen, to the writing of the piece is perfect, and I now really and deeply ‘get’ this fantastic work.
Starting with Time’s Machines Part 1. the album opens with running water (a stream, a waterfall???) and slowly but surely the droning instrumentation is introduced setting us onto a path of discovery and enlightenment. Sounding like the musical representation of the birth of life on Earth, the track is a fine example of music that invokes various imagery in the mind of the listener.
Trees, growing and blowing in the breeze, the first smile of a newborn baby, and the last smile from a dying relative, this opening seventeen minutes of music encompasses all of life from cradle to grave and does so with majestic beauty. Laugh or cry it does not matter, all of what makes being human a glorious and painful experience can be found within.
Time’s Machines Part 2 follows and opens with some what I assume to be German voices and the best use of ticking clocks since Floyd’s Time. Part 2 contains some extremely deep-in-the-mix white noise and some glorious use of wind instrumentation which gives the track a much more spacey feel. As the track descends into signal fuzz/static it leaves you with the impression that the music we are hearing may be being sent to us from somewhere else. More Terrence Malik than Stanley Kubrick, Part 2 segues beautifully into Three Months Two Days, a short (in comparison with the rest of the albums tracks) number than builds from the static of Part 2 and drifts by wistfully giving the listener a similar sense of melancholy that one can get from staring through a train window on a rainy day watching the world and the water fly past.
How Readily The Present Folds Away gets more into the drone side of music than the previous tracks ambience with many left/right speaker mix shifts and the use of organ. Much rougher than tracks 1-3, the repeated musical motifs give a sense of unease and has some jarring moments that still give the listener a sense that if this was a cinema piece, the music we are currently hearing would be getting ‘found’ in radio/TV signals etc.
The album ends with the seventeen minutes of Streams Of Consciousness. Returning with the flowing water from Time’s Machines Part 1. we get a sense that Mt. Judge is showing us that the life circle will keep on going and going. A stunning use of cello three minutes from the end is a fine touch and adds more heart to the track.
Time’s Machines is, like the recently reviewed Field Rotation’s Fatalist: A Repetition Of History, an ambient album that forces engagement before its rewards are shown. Music to sit down and loose yourself too. Proof that you don’t always need a singer or lyricist to say what you are feeling (for example, Buzzcock’s 3-note solo on Boredom, or Marr’s arpeggio on How Soon Is Now, sum up just as much feeling and a sense of understanding in the listener as the lyrics do on those songs), Time’s Machines can make your imagination dive, float or soar. Truly big screen cinematic music.
A gorgeous and deep album.
All words by Simon Tucker. You can read more from Simon on LTW here.