MATCHING MOLE — Matching Mole's Little Red Record

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MATCHING MOLE - Matching Mole's Little Red Record cover
3.61 | 11 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1972

Filed under Fusion


A1 Starting In The Middle Of The Day We Can
A2 Marchides
A3 Nan True's Hole
A4 Righteous Rhumba
A5 Brandy As In Benj
B1 Gloria Gloom
B2 God Song
B3 Flora Fidgit
B4 Smoke Signal

Total Time: 42:56


Bass – Bill MacCormick
Drums, Vocals [Mouth] – Robert Wyatt
Featuring [Der Mütter Korus] – Dave Gale , Little Honest Injun, Ruby Crystal
Grand Piano [Grahnd Piahno], Organ [Hammond], Electric Piano – Dave McRae
Guitar – Phil Miller
Synthesizer [Eno's Synthesizer Keyboard] – Dave McRae (tracks: B3)

About this release

CBS ‎– 65260 (UK)

Recorded at CBS Studios, London, the summer of '72

Thanks to EntertheLemming, snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Second (and final studio) Matching Mole's album is quite different from its predecessor.Psychedelic naive and beautiful pop/rock songs has gone, and the band stepped to complex experimental jazz fusion area. Being predominantly instrumental, this release contains not much of Wyatt's vocals, but demonstrates one of the best his drumming ever.

Organist David Sinclair, collaborated on band's debut,left the band, and Dave McRae started to use synthesizer. Electronic music guru Brian Eno,being on the peak of his experimental activities at that period, participated in album's recordings as guest musician,he didn't played much physically there, but his electronic sound using ideas did influence album's sound for sure.

Compositions on this album are mostly complex interplay between all musicians,with great drumming,bass structures and plenty of experimental keyboards sounds. Very soon use of synthesizers and electronic effects will become the real nightmare,destroying many musical genres for decades, but there on this album (as on some more Eno's albums of early 70-s) one can hear how interesting and tasteful electronic sounds could be.

Few vocal-oriented songs are presented here,with obvious influence of early Soft Machine's aesthetics, but even them are transformed according to more modern and experimental band's direction. Some compositions sound very close to Soft Machine's Third (just slightly more relaxed) - it's really difficult to avoid comparing Matching Mole with Soft Machine!Better organised than their debut,with structure and direction,this release sounds more mature (even if some naive but so attractive late 60-s spirit has gone). In all - strong experimental jazz fusion album with successful use of early electronic and plenty of artistic ideas on it. In many senses,this album is more attractive than Soft Machine's releases from post-classic period.

Speaking about this album,it's difficult to avoid one more theme - radical leftist Wyatt's ideology. Album's name and cover both refer to Chairman Mao's Little Red Book and Wyatt is openly influenced by Cultural Revolution idea. I can hardly imagine someone attracted by Chinese Cultural Revolution or Stalin's Gulags nowadays, but under all these naive but organic Wyatt's political craziness I see more infantile pose than serious point of view. I spent my childhood and young years in the world Wyatt possibly dreamed about in early 70-s (the world with empty shop shelves,grey clothes and grey faces,the world, where people saw no future and were afraid of any man in uniform, and with small children, dreaming about few mandarins or banana as best New Year's gift (not Christmas gift - Christmas was banned)),and I am sure that leftist heaven from Wyatt would look as real heaven for millions of those, living in Socialist reality. And Wyatt himself with his artistic personality would finish in Siberian concentration camp for sure. So - really attracted by music, I don't care much about ideology of this release: Wyatt just doesn't understand what he is speaking about here, don't hate him for that!

This album became last band's studio release,Wyatt started his real solo career after, and Phil Miller went on to two other Canterbury scene bands, Hatfield & the North and National Health.

Members reviews

"We are determined to liberate Taiwan!"

Soon after their eponymous debut, Matching Mole hit the road and toured western Europe, appearing on various TV shows and festivals. It was at that time that David Sinclair left the band to play with Hatfield and the North and later on Caravan's For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night. He was replaced with Dave MacRae, a jazz keyboardist from New Zealand, who was already credited as a guest on Matching Mole's debut album. In July of 1972, about half a year after their first work, the band entered the doors of London's CBS Studios to record Matching Mole's Little Red Record. The release was produced by Robert Fripp of King Crimson. In addition, the band invited Brian Eno, the pioneer synthesist, to guest on their album.

The title of the release is an allusion to Chairman Mao's Little Red Book, known as the Maoist bible of the cultural revolution period. The cover art portrays the band members on what looks like a Chinese communist propaganda poster. The inspiration for the cover painting came from a Chinese postcard with a caption that read "We are determined to liberate Taiwan!" Despite a lot of controversy, the group, in fact, had nothing to do with idea for the album art, as the drawing was designed by CBS' graphic designers. Robert Wyatt even admitted that he did not particularly like the design. Wyatt's lyrics on Little Red Record have also been an object of heated discussion. The artist declares that the fight for the righteous socialist world should also be expressed in music and confesses that his beliefs are closer to the Chinese communist world rather than the degenerated capitalist west.

Musically, Little Red Record is a quintessential Canterbury scene album. Matching Mole's style is notably different from their debut album. The group got rid of the song-oriented ballads almost entirely and introduced an even higher amount of jazz-fueled improvisation to their music. However, showcasing the group's members' musical skill does not seem to be the aim of the numerous improvisational passages that appear so frequently on Little Red Record. The heavy repeating passages, which often do provide a base for instrumental solos, create musical tension, which makes the music on this record incredibly moody and full of distinctive mysticism. The typical tongue-in-cheek, Canterbury-styled arrangements are common. This becomes evident with pre-recorded voices and sounds of various conversations played over the band's music, giving the album an eccentric appearance.

The high amount of jazz influences on Little Red Record compared to Matching Mole might partly be caused by the new keyboard player, Dave MacRae. His extensive use of Fender Rhodes electric piano adds a very fusion-esque element to the band's sound, at times similar to the one of Soft Machine. Similarly to Dave Sinclair, MacRae is extremely proficient in many diverse musical situations ranging from as far as subtle drone touches to accurate rhythm keyboard play to rapid, pronounced solo parts. Robert Wyatt's drumming is very dense. He finds himself comfortable playing heavy, varied rhythms in odd time signatures. His characteristic vocals also appear, but more often in a spoken word scenario. Although it may not seem like it at first, Bill McCormick's basslines play a crucial role in Matching Mole's sound, building a strong musical foundation for other members. David Sinclair's fuzz organ solos are replaced with those on Phil Miller's guitar, which he plays with an astonishingly precise touch. Brian Eno with his VCS3 synthesizer is responsible for ambient, electronic passages, creating striking, mystic soundscapes.

The album opens with "Starting in the Middle of the Day, We Can Drink Our Politics Away", which features a male choir supported by a repeating piano passage. The lush, surrounding organ sound builds up tension, which is discharged with a loud, rapid jazz jam on "Marchides". The next track, "Nah True's Hole" is based around a repeating pattern with a conversation in the background. In fact, the female voice belongs to Julie Christie, a famous English actress, who is credited as Flora Fidgit. The things she says are erotically-charged and work particularly well with the passage in the background. On "Righteous Rhumba", Robert Wyatt's lyrics talk about the utopian socialist vision and his repellence towards the capitalist world. "Brandy as in Benj" is a jazz-based piece, aimed at displaying the instrumental skill of Matching Mole's members. "Gloria Gloom" starts out with Brain Eno's lengthy synthesizer texture and resolves into Robert Wyatt's politically-charged song. Towards the end, Eno's input comes back, closing the song in a dark, agitating manner. "God Song", the only acoustic piece, sounds a bit like song-oriented tracks from Wyatt's solo releases. "Flora Fidgit" is another jazz jam, in ways similar to what Soft Machine were doing at the time. The album is closed with "Smoke Signal". The track features tense ambient soundscapes with Robert Wyatt's drum solo. Towards the end, one is capable of hearing soft melodies, sounding as if trying to break through, which eventually fade way.

Matching Mole's iconic Little Red Record could best be described as an eccentric political jazz statement with great musicianship. The controversy the band caused with its appearance and title may partly be responsible for its success. The concept and performance is very interesting and original. This is a legendary Canterbury scene album and is without a doubt a must-listen! Recommended!
Matching Mole's first album was Robert Wyatt's chance to finally get on record musical concepts developed during his tenure in Soft Machine which, for whatever reason, had been vetoed by the rest of that band. For the second album, the group took a more democratic approach to songwriting, resulting in a more diverse album that isn't quite so dominated by Wyatt's songs - Wyatt perhaps wanting to avoid repeating in his new band the same mistakes that drove him out of his old band. As a consequence, the album is a bit of a patchy affair, with the band as a whole casting about and trying to decide what sort of music it wants to perform. Opening track Gloria Gloom (on the CD version - Wyatt decided for CD releases to swap around side A and side B from the vinyl since he thought that yielded a better running order) begins with ambient noises - perhaps courtesy of guest synth wizard Brian Eno - that sound like a decades-displaced-in-time Aphex Twin before launching into avant-Canterbury strangeness, whilst other tracks start pointing the way to Phil Miller's later work in Hatfield and the North. (An instrumental version of Nan True's Hole, for example, would be performed live at Hatfield concerts under the anagrammatic title of Oh! Len's Nature.)

Still, as a whole the album lacks focus, and sounds more like experiments towards a band identity rather than the group manifesto the album title suggests. Perhaps a third Matching Mole album would have been more cohesive; unfortunately, that was not to be. Wyatt, worse for wear at a party, would take a startling fall from a balcony a short time after this album was released, paralysing him for life - and whilst Wyatt did thankfully escape an untimely death, the change in his circumstances meant that Matching Mole was not so lucky. Fans of Wyatt's Rock Bottom album or Miller's work with the Hatfields will be interested in the context this album provides for those works, but otherwise this is not an especially essential Canterbury release, and certainly not as gripping as Matching Mole's debut.
Sean Trane
Less than seven months after recording their debut album, having toured constantly recording a few radio sessions throughout Europe, MM entered the studios in July 72 for their second (and last, but they weren’t aware of it) album that was produced by Robert Fripp. Armed with an highjacked Chinese propaganda poster, the sleeve (and the album title) leaves little doubt as to their political aspirations, although I suspect that this was probably not shared by everyone in the group, because the ambiance within the group quickly became detestable and two months after its release, the group over, even if the explanation was about gigs not being paid and bankruptcy. So with Sinclair gone just after the debut’s release, McRae is alone on keys, but the major difference with their first is Wyatt’s songwriting that had filled almost all of the album, was reduced to absolutely none in LRR, if you’ll except the lyrics and other vocals, but these holds a big part of creativity.

Starting on one of the most surprising track that Wyatt ever recorded, Drink Our Politics Away is a strange semi-operatic over some McRae keyboards and Eno synth layer. Directly and abruptly segueing into Marchides (much the same way Signed Curtain had given in to Part Of The Dance on their previous album), the group takes its vengeance with a wild and torrid 100MPH jazz-rock that veers a bit dissonant in its middle section, before coming back more relaxed. Some exceptionally inventive drumming from Wyatt on this track that had received much previous rehearsal since it was concert standard, but everyone contributes greatly. Again segueing straight into Nan’s True Hole, Robert develops some very strange gossipy vocals with him, wifie Alfie and friendly model Julie just yapping away over Wyatt’s jaw-dropping drumming and a Frippian guitar solo, courtesy of …. Phil Miller; the whole thing falling into Righteous Rhumba without really noticing much a change. Closing on the wild Brandy for Benj (a roadie), with McRae on a rare organ part at the start and Miller’s brilliant solo.

Being shutout throughout the first half of the album, McCormick scores Gloria’s Gloom as the flipside opens with the second centrepiece, which starts nightmarishly percussive and hauntingly spooky with Eno’s VCS-3 deranging many listeners and remaining dissonant through a few minutes, until chattering gossipy vocals take the track slowly into the middle section where Wyatt singing his heart out until Eno’s Martenot-like synth layers take us back to earth. After the popish God Song (sticking out like a sore thumb), Flora Fidgit (Frigid Flora? Yashure?? ;-)) where McRae’s el piano steals the show. The closing Smoke Signal is the third highlight, a slow developing ambient cosmic piece with Wyatt’s astounding drumming, and slowly dying in death throes

Although MM’s last studio album is generally not as reputed as its debut album, bit it’s certainly no worse an album, with this one being more of a group effort. Both MM are absolutely essential to Canterbury fans, but it’s not recommended to start with them, if you’re a newbie.

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