Scared of Ferret
Silber Records
Review by Kent Manthie

On their Silber Records debut CD, Scared of Ferret, Moodring is set free to do anything (and everything) they want. And they certainly go to town on this disc. It’s so rich and bountiful in its layers of sounds – mostly “effects”, a “kaos pad” as well as “hand percussion”, some electronic drum machine workings and some kind of hybrid of both.
Moodring is the brainchild of Mae Starr and Monte Trent Allen, who used to play in Rollerball and was, at first, a “side project”, where the two could show off their own stuff, on their own. Moodring was the result of this split, which, of course, became permanent.
Between 2005 and 2007, Starr and Allen put out six limited run releases on the Nilla Cat label. In 2007 Jesse Stevens joined the band, at first helping out in live shows, playing the flute and drums, but he was retained, therefore added a new element or set of elements, since he plays the flute, drums and those ubiquitous “effects”, which abound on the disc, but they don’t dominate the songs, rather everything complements everything else.
On Scared of Ferret, the debut full-length CD for Silber Records, Stevens is around and also acted as recording engineer. Also, the band is now a quartet, with the addition of Michael Braun Hamilton to the band. Hamilton plays a bass clarinet plugged into an effects pedal and – wow! Hip, dude – the added dynamism of Hamilton’s jazzy horn mixed in there is a boon to their sound.
If one was comparing Moodring to another medium of art, I’d like to think that it would be to Abstract Expressionism and its predecessors. It’s not quite as outre as earlier art “schools” in the early 20th Century, like Dada or Surrealism, but the symbolism of Abstract Expressionism that was expressed in its seeming simplicity or its abstractness that, no doubt to some, appeared to be nonsensical or mocking, et cetera and not seeing or understanding how certain things represent other things and that these “symbols” can represent political overtones, social critiques, introverted ideas or paeans to loved ones or even nothing at all, which is the funniest of them all because those are the ones that art critics purport to give a “meaning to” when none exists.
The first few tunes on Scared of Ferret are slow and tres experimental. Songs like the opener, “Pole Cat Intro” and “Rintin Fire” are rather atonal and structured with chaos and “noise” a la Sonic Youth at their best, live but sans the urbane grittiness of the latter.
On cut three, “#9”, Mae’s vocalizing kicks in and only gets stronger and stronger as the album goes on. Song six, “Colin Wilson” is a slowed-down, haunting tune that reminds one a bit of the early dreaminess of the Jesus and Mary Chain.
The songs that really stand out are “Into the Doom”, which is really groovy and features Hamilton, who gets a chance to really shine here, on his bass clarinet, as well as a fiery vocalization from Starr. It’s probably the best tune on here. But that is a purely personal thing, subject to change at any time. Also good is the aforementioned “Colin Wilson”, “Bulbul Tarang”, a tangy jazzy-psych-out mix, whose eclectic sound makes it all the more inviting; “The Weasel” is pure gravy, while “Ricketts” has a bitchin’ drum solo in the middle and is a nice penultimate track, while we go out with “Horse” a dirge-like composition that mixes the “primitive ambience” of the first part of the CD with the jazzy, neo-psychedelia of songs 6-10. – KM

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