Somnambule - Writing About Music

Murcof ~ Utopia

It seems a shame that Fernando Corona has chosen to record under the name Murcof: it’s a pseudonym whose anonymity verges on the anodyne. Yet Murcof’s music is gorgeous bordering on sublime. Murcof’s first album, Martes, was accorded plaudits by many critics and became one of the Leaf label’s bestsellers. Its long-playing successor appears, on paper at least, to be something of a hodgepodge, consisting as it does of:

As a result Utopia isn’t referred to as an album proper, but rather a collection of odds and ends. The advantage of this is that it’s being sold at a lower price, the disadvantage is that it may be in danger of being overlooked because such a description conveys a misleading impression: these eleven tracks in fact present an impressively consistent whole. Subtlety is the watchword here. None of Utopia’s musical elements can be described as intrusive. The result however is never languorous or dull: both Murcof and his sympathetic remixers (Jan Jelinek, Deathprod, Sutekh, Fax, Aeroc, Icarus and Colleen) create a remarkable degree of aural space that allows the listener the liberty of appreciating and exploring the interplay between sonic event and enveloping ambience.

Many of the tracks appear to be composed of atmospheres thin and light as gossamer, diaphonous veils which drift across the field of hearing. If King Crimson hadn’t already named an instrumental track on their 1984 Album Three Of A Perfect Pair: ‘Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)’, then it might have been employed by Murcof to entirely appropriate effect. Unhurried beats appear to well up naturally out of the aforesaid atmospheres. These beats often take a long time to appear, may fade or cease only to reappear again much later. Three tracks here are over ten minutes long so there’s time enough for this to happen naturally in an unforced way. The other tracks share the expansive feeling of their longer sisters. There is a distinct sense of foreground and background throughout this album. For the former, Murcof deploys glitches (normally used by others as rhythmic texture) in such a sparing way that they might be experienced as some form of careful protagonist letting fall a trail of crumbs for the listener to follow.

For Utopia to have been recorded in a teeming city is unthinkable. It must surely have been recorded on a vast plain whose horizons meet steeply rising mountains.

MP3s available here.

Colin Buttimer
June 2004
Published by Milkfactory