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Feature ArticleAnalogue Smoque (The Wire / All Music Guide)::

Analogue SmoquePhilip Clark in The Wire rants: "Analogue Smoque does too good a job of
alienating listeners through its insufferable self-satisfaction and
bumptious high regard....can only be endured for a few minutes before deep
embarrassment sets in and the fast forward button becomes the only escape

While François Couture in All Music Guide raves: Strange and deranged, no
matter from what angle you look at it, Analogue Smoque offers a
disconcerting journey through the essence of surrealism. Your guide is Mike
Silverton, editor of LaFolia.com. He reads his prose poetry in a low,
pleasant, articulate, and extremely classy voice, throwing one short piece
after another. He speaks of vanishing iconoclasts, of a "Giant Mango in the Confessional" (the title of one piece), and of underdogs, the latter topic turning up more than once, thus providing a mock macrostructure to this collage. Despite the presence of 15 tracks, Analogue Smoque actually runs like one continuous 100-minute work (split over two discs). A specific track doesn't relate to any particular microstructure. It can contain more than one poem or start in the middle of one.

The musical accompaniment, provided by Al Margolis (aka If, Bwana) and Tom Hamilton, bears little to no relation
to the words. Often, they refrain from playing, sometime for long stretches. When they do, they provide twisted backdrops of analog electronics, treated sounds, and field recordings. The lack of relationship between words and
music works marvelously well, in fact, any tighter structure would have suffocated the Dadaist spirit of the project. You just have to accept it and let yourself be surprised. Since the mind focuses on the words (already a challenge to follow), the music becomes a secondary feature, although in some places (as in "A Cozy Place by the Crevasse") it can steal your
attention for a disorienting moment.

As a spoken word piece, Analogue Smoque would be the antithesis of Erik Belgum's carefully arranged works. But you
may prefer to approach it as "the strangest book on tape you'll ever hear."

Analogue Smoque is a double album in the experimental/spoken word/electronics genre, with spoken word being the dominating voice. Mike Silverton, the speaker and text-maker has been highly influenced by Dada.
The text takes the form of sentence fragments from different stories spoken as if one story. The nonsensical result encourages the listener to listen in a less linear fashion and not look for meaning in the conventional way. With irregular intersection with electronic sounds that sound like car horns, whips and birdcalls and tearing vinyl the result is a ridiculous,
humourous and sometimes disturbing listening experience. The first track A rift in the ceiling sets the style of the album, spoken word over what sounds like car horns and then dissonant high-pitched electronics. Each sentence or phrase has its own meaning but is usually disconnected from the meaning of the following sentence/phrase. You need to let go of the normal concept of listening - looking for connections and meanings.

The next few tracks roll around without any sounds or electronics, just text, Silverton's convincing storytelling intonation makes you quite sure you're listening to a story, its one that only makes sense as a million fragments connected by one voice. The fragments are often interesting in themselves, uplifting even at times. Common themes and recurring words
emerge... underdogs, sexual encounters and body parts, European and Asian literary and artistic references, like Salieri, Li Po, Ophelia, Tolstoy and other Russian figures. The tracks start to roll into one another, with very minimal sound input from Hamilton and Margolis. Track four and five seem to be telling a story about a character called Mason. The name Mason recurs like a chorus about him. In track six The enchanted kielbasa sound again makes itself more present, and remains for the rest of the album.

Silverton gives a clue to his reasoning in the last track "Do you like the way these words sound? Never mind all that - toss them to the ground. In a mud puddle even, in a heap, this too is a turn of events...Them I embrace...This is an authentic imagining in which I an underdog with aspirations above my station am made to look enigmatic" or does he?! The second album delivers more of the same, with a greater percentage of sound input - tonality even makes an entrance, as does more regular rhythmic input. What I love about this kind of material is you either condemn it immediately as being a huge wank, or you go with it and are forced to totally change your headspace in order to enjoy it. It's worth the effort if you're up for it, if only to enjoy the rarely trodden end of the spectrum of colours in this crazy world we live in. - review by Oonagh Sherrard for indie-cds.com 2006

  Analogue Smogue - Written Text  
Past Feature Article: If, Bwana / Al Margolis featured in UK's Wire Magazine
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