Moor Mother and Nicole Mitchell’s Offering offers a haunting exploration of nature and artifice
Moor Mother‘s new record Offering is a live improvised performance with flautist and composer Nicole Mitchell, recorded at Le Guess Who festival in Utrecht, The Netherlands in 2018. It continues a long tradition of juxtaposing natural and synthetic sounds, utilizing non-Western instruments, structures, and signifiers to offer an alternate form of music: one that has no origin, yet is still deeply rooted in our collective consciousness as beings of nature.
The first section of Offering, “Up Out of the Ugly,” is an evolving, amorphous soundscape. Birds chirp in the background as unidentified instruments are pitch-shifted up and down. Music is not generally thought of as a spatial art form, but Moor Mother deconstructs that. At one point, the distorted wall of noise spins from left to right, up and down, physically moving around your ears. She creates a physically present soundscape, one that feels like it exists all around you rather than just in your head, substituting our natural environment for one of her own design.
The second section, “Vultures Laughing,” features rumbling waves of low, distorted feedback sending ominous shivers of sound into the void. Again, the juxtaposition of the natural and the not-natural dominates the track: “You see the vultures laughing,” Moor Mother says, laughing, while heavy exhalations steadily crescendo. Imagery of animals, life, and nature are abound everywhere throughout Offering, contrasted by the distinctly unnatural, artificial noises used in the production.
The final section, “Prototype Eve,” features a shimmering flute motif set against harsh string bowing. At one point, discordant jabs of brass noise are chopped and screwed and cut and pitch-shifted and mixed so as to be completely unrecognizable. Similar to Ornette Coleman’s free jazz, this isn’t random noise. This has purpose. Deep underneath the apparent harshness of the sound, there is a structure in its creation and intention. The sound is organized yet chaotic, and so too is the world.
Purchase Moor Mother’s Offering: Live at Le Guess Whohere. Stream it through Bandcamp below.