MATCHING MOLE — Matching Mole's Little Red Record (review)

MATCHING MOLE — Matching Mole's Little Red Record album cover Album · 1972 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
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.
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