MATCHING MOLE

Fusion • United Kingdom
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Between his departure from the Soft Machine and the proper beginning of his solo career, Robert Wyatt steered Matching Mole, an outfit which bore much similarity to his later work with Soft Machine. Indeed, the name Matching Mole was chosen as a subtle pun on Soft Machine (the sound of the English words "matching mole" are very similar to the French translation of "soft machine," machine molle). However, Matching Mole didn't measure up to either his best Soft Machine work or his best solo outings. Although Wyatt occasionally let his vocal charm and humor shine, in the main Matching Mole was an outlet for the improvisational talents of the band, which often veered from inspiration into dated fusionoid noodling.

The first lineup of Matching Mole also included former Caravan member Dave Sinclair on keyboards, Phil Miller on guitar, and Bill MacCormick. Wyatt wrote most of the material on the 1972
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On The RadioOn The Radio
Hux Records 2007
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Matching MoleMatching Mole
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Esoteric 2012
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Esoteric 2012
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Matching Mole (White Vinyl) [VINYL]Matching Mole (White Vinyl) [VINYL]
Klimt 2019
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MarchMarch
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MATCHING MOLE Discography

MATCHING MOLE albums / top albums

MATCHING MOLE Matching Mole album cover 3.49 | 12 ratings
Matching Mole
Fusion 1972
MATCHING MOLE Matching Mole's Little Red Record album cover 3.61 | 11 ratings
Matching Mole's Little Red Record
Fusion 1972

MATCHING MOLE EPs & splits

MATCHING MOLE BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert album cover 3.95 | 4 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
Fusion 1994

MATCHING MOLE live albums

MATCHING MOLE Smoke Signals album cover 3.42 | 3 ratings
Smoke Signals
Fusion 2001
MATCHING MOLE March album cover 3.88 | 4 ratings
March
Fusion 2002
MATCHING MOLE On the Radio album cover 3.88 | 3 ratings
On the Radio
Fusion 2006

MATCHING MOLE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

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MATCHING MOLE Reviews

MATCHING MOLE Matching Mole

Album · 1972 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Hard to believe that a simple innocent band like the Wilde Flowers could blossom so quickly and splinter into so many disparate directions. After that fortuitous breakup, both Soft Machine and Caravan continued on in the psychedelic pop world but as Caravan continued to create ever more sophisticated progressively oriented psychedelic pop, Soft Machine on the other hand was hell bent for leather for jumping into jazz-rock territory only to abandon the rock part of the equation altogether. While this was perfectly suited for the such jazz leaning members such as Elton Dean, Robert Wyatt was feeling like a fish out of water and was very quickly getting squeezed out of the band’s decision in musical direction. Come Soft Machine’s “IV” and he had enough.

Whether he was fired or voluntarily left of his own volition is a mute point. The fact was that Wyatt’s creative outlets were being stifled and it was time to move on. Move on he did and while Soft Machine was more interested in proving themselves as jazz musicians and abandoning all the rock creds that created progressive rock’s Canterbury Scene, Wyatt was ready to jump back onto the Canterbury bandwagon and take control of his own musical direction. The result was the cleverly named MATCHING MOLE where Wyatt put the whimsy back in the Scene and created a pun on “Machine Molle” which is simply the French translation of Soft Machine!

Wyatt hooked up with Caravan organist David Sinclair (who remained with that band), original Quiet Sun bassist Bill MacCormick and guitarist Phil Miller who had played with Carol Grimes & Delivery. Wyatt continued his role as a drummer but also contributed a great deal of piano, mellotron and lead vocals. In a way, MATCHING MOLE’s eponymous debut is the first “true” 70s Canterbury Scene album, at least in that famous cohesive sound since both Soft Machine and Caravan while going their own ways remained psychedelic pop and in the case of Soft Machine’s “Third” and beyond, more a jazz-rock fusion band. MATCHING MOLE was the first album in the subgenre to create that perfect fusion sound of psychedelic rock and jamming sessions with all the technical jazz touches side by side with the humorous whimsical style that the style had become synonymous with.

While this was indubitably Wyatt’s baby, he seemed to still be letting other’s influence his decision as to what was to make it on the album. This is abundantly clear on the first track “O Caroline” which is really the one track that doesn’t fit in with the rest. While Wyatt composed the majority of tracks on the album, it was Sinclair and his slick Caravan pop sensibilities who composed the opener “O Caroline,” a track about breaking up with his girlfriend and apparently supposed to be a single as it appears on the remastered version as a bonus track titled “O Caroline (Single version.)” It is a whiny little track with a piano based melody riffing along about, well, girl trouble things. Not necessarily bad subject matter but clearly a stab at some sort of crossover success. While the two following tracks “Instany Pussy” and “Signed Curtain” are also based in catchy melodies and not overtly complex, they do sound more like the classic Canterbury style with an ostinato bass line frosted over with psychedelic touches and the famous organ sound that instantly screams the style albeit more on the accessible side as well. These two track in many ways portend the much more complex leanings of the future Hatfield & The North projects at least in sound.

While the first MATCHING MOLE album starts off rather ho hum with a tame crossover type track and slowly transitions into more interesting musical turf, it really takes off on the fourth track “Part Of The Dance,” the sole Miller contribution creates a lengthy nine minute plus jazzy psychedelic jam session that utilizes all the progressive rock signature sounds with a rad mellotron and organ accompaniment punctuated by a plethora of time signature workouts and Miller’s stellar guitar work that would eventually find a second calling in Quiet Sun. The remaining tracks never deviate from the progressive rock world and only get more psychedelic, more otherworldly and more proggy as they commence. It’s actually quite astonishing how the album ratchets up from totally accessible and borderline cheesy to ultra-sophistication in both musical performance and production values. Perhaps a slow burner but more than worth the wait.

Speaking of production values, this album is fairly notorious for having been poorly recorded despite appearing on a major label like CBS Records when it debuted in 1972, however i highly recommend the newer remastered version that came out in 2012. It not only has a bonus disc with a ridiculous amount of surplus material including alternate session takes and BBC Radio One sessions but also includes the single edits and the stellar previously unreleased near 21 minute prog behemoth “Part Of The Dance Jam” which most certainly would have been included on the album if permission for a double album would have been granted. It is a sprawling jam that takes the MATCHING MOLE psychedelic Canterbury sound and merges it with more of a Soft Machine “Third” type of composition. Not to mention the production has been improved 100 fold and although not exactly sounding like it’s a bristling new album recording in modern times, sounds crisp and clean for an album recorded many decades ago.

MATCHING MOLE Matching Mole's Little Red Record

Album · 1972 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
ALotOfBottle
"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 Matching Mole's Little Red Record

Album · 1972 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
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.

MATCHING MOLE Matching Mole

Album · 1972 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Robert Wyatt's first album as a band leader, following his exit from Soft Machine, shows the broad range of his musical interests - almost all of which were being ignored by his former band at this point, with their fourth and fifth albums being devoted to fairly strait-laced jazz fusion. Not that there's no jazz influence here - far from it - but the album is infused with Wyatt's hitherto-stifled personality, from the touching love song O Caroline that opens the album (the simplest track) to the more challenging, free jazz-influenced material that follows.

At times, the album sounds like a more approachable, tighter, and interesting version of Wyatt's An End of an Ear, his voice-as-instrument solo album; at other points, it sounds like rough sketches for Hatfield and the North. The latter part isn't so surprising, since after the demise of the Mole guitarist Phil Miller became a founder of Hatfield and the North, and the most Hatfield-sounding song on the album, Part of the Dance, is actually a Miller composition.

The second Matching Mole album was a bit more diverse in its songwriting - the majority of the material here is by Wyatt, but that's really no surprise considering that by the time of his exit from Soft Machine he must have had quite a stash of juicy musical ideas which had been glossed over by his former band. I think it's a vitally important album both to Wyatt's discography and to the development of the Canterbury scene as a whole.

MATCHING MOLE On the Radio

Live album · 2006 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
Over the year Matching Mole were together, they managed four BBC sessions, but only one had surfaced so far, with the BBC In Concert album issued in 92, containing their longer session from July. As that album had been OOP, Hux records unearthed the other three sessions and gathered them with the July session. Exactly why Hux chose not to organize the sessions chronologically is beyond me (there is even the Jan 72 session broken up in two parts), but the main thing is that we get all of them. An unrelated but colourful ugly artwork, some very informative liner notes, some precious photos, all of this make the only live MM album you’ll ever need, because so far, it’s the only one with an excellent sound.

The first session we are subjected to is the April 72 one, where all three tracks are meddled into a 20-mins, where MM already has some tracks down for their second album LRR. Indeed Marchides and Smoke Signals were only works-in-progress and both sound much different than in their future studio version (including a drum solo in the former); and are sandwiching Instant Pussy where Robert explodes his scat voice into echo effects. Up next is the Jan 72 session, broken up by the March 72 session, with the delicious Part Of The Dance (with Sinclair still in the line-up and McRae in as well), with their first album just about to be released. The Miller-penned PotD song features both an Hammond organ and a Fender Rhodes, and even though the sound quality is a bit approximate, this is one of the disc’s highlights. The two March session tracks (Sinclair was gone by then) are much clearer sounding, especially the Ayers cover No ‘alf Measures and the never studio-encapsulated Lithing track, an exciting Miller, McRae & Wyatt comp. Rounding up the unreleased tracks is an extended version of Immediate Kitten, where Sinclair’s organ charms into the superb intro, then going fuzz into the body of the song. An extended and excellent workout that confirms that MM’s best moments were with both Sinclair and McRae in the band.

The second part of the album had seen the light of day in 94, but it gets added on here. It is an In Concert feature from late July 72, just as their second album LRR was almost finished; less than three months away from the group’s demise. His “session starts on the best Wyatt scat vocals ever with Instant Pussy, he yodels away madly in their best-ever version of this track. The next three tracks have been already featured in this compilation, but are presented in much different versions and you’d have to be a chiefmasterconoisseur to guess blindly where Lithing And Gracing track begins. LAG sees MM in full madness roaring at 120 MPH, and Marchides sees McRae’s Fender Rhodes take a solid intro, before the group blinds us with their dexterity and virtuosity a bit further down the track. Part Of The dance is again much livelier in this version than either the radio or studio version. Here, it is the pinnacle of MM’s short career, with Phil Miller shinning throughout the 6 minutes of the track. Absolutely essential stuff, with the closer ode to Benj (a roadie) melted in as a finale for the track.

Unless you own the old (94) BBC issue, there is no way that any MM fan should hesitate more than five seconds before running out to the shops to get their copies. And if you do own it, you already have the best part of this album, but the other three sessions are all worthy even if the Jan and March session’s sound are a bit less sparkling. Indispensible!!

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