Separating the past from the future when considering music is to some degree a fool’s errand, presupposing that time – and our flawed memory of it – can simply be subdivided, sliced into even, definable pieces, like nothing more than a quantum loaf of bread. Who can separate past and future, right now? Who can detach Sun Ra from The MC5, and why would you try? Who put the bomp in the bomp-bah-bomp-bah-bomp?
Still, we’ve never claimed not to be foolish (and we have this website to prove it), so the sounds of Tomaga and Moses Nesh have us pondering past and future, right now.
“Futura Grotesk” is the title of the latest release from Tomaga, out now on the always-reliable Hands in the Dark Records, so there is at least some justification for our focus on the future. As for the grotesque? The black gate is still closed. Separating the grotesque from the gorgeous may just be another fool’s errand when it comes to Tomaga, whose “Futura Grotesk” – while sometimes minimal in approach – yields maximum repeat listens, surreality submerged across landscapes of lunacy, uncovered and delivering the listener through a fully realized thirty minutes of intergalactic haze, through the terror-dome and into a place where you can still hear the drummer get wicked.
It takes about two minutes into album opener “Alphabet of the Night” for Tomaga to begin speaking their own language, a native tongue at once comfortable with and combating chaos, our beloved bleeps-and-bloops steadily spacing out while spacing in, creating an alternate universe where a dub-drenched alternate mix of “Hall of the Mountain Grill” seems not only possible, but probable. And by the time we scale the heights of the album’s penultimate track, “Mountain Opener” – an eight-minute open-flame of space and time in and of itself, like Albert Ayler taking a smoke break and inviting us to once again focus on those drums, those drums, those drums – we’re fluent in the future provided by Tomaga here as well, just in time for a song titled “Days Like They Were Before” to end this magnificent album and return us to home safely, if forever changed.
It would be comforting to think an album like “Futura Grotesk” can be compartmentalized into being “about” the future, while the songs and sound of Moses Nesh, presented here on the cassette entitled “The Lovely Ohio,” are “about” the past. A fool’s errand, we say again, and we’re ‘bout it, ‘bout it.
To be clear, the music of Moses Nesh is quite a different thing than that of Tomaga, the limitless expanse of “Futura Grostesk” exchanged for the finite fire of a beat-up guitar and a beat-down voice. Still, to these ears, it’s only an example of how different paths can deliver strikingly similar results. “The Lovely Ohio” captures discomfort, desire and deliverance as clearly and capably as any dystopian, sci-fi vision of a future filled with neuroprostetics and “Neu! ‘75” on repeat. That the tools used by Nesh to achieve this end are more familiar only makes the results more extraordinary. Whether unfolding from the Appalachian Mountains or from mountains of Mars, the songs on “The Lovely Ohio” cut to the cosmic core, perhaps none more so than “The Battle of Austerlitz,” elegiac and angelic all at once, whether heard from the perspective of the past, the future, or – our highest recommendation – this present moment.
“Our life is momentary, and, at the same time, each moment, you know, include its own past and future. Next moment will include its own past and future. In this way, our momentary and eternal life will continue. This is, you know, how we lead our everyday life, how we enjoy our everyday life, and how we get freedom from various difficulties. How we not suffer from difficulties and how we enjoy our life, moment after moment, is our practice, based on true understanding.” – Shunryu Suzuki