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Murmur 64
Fermata (the Dixie Brewery Fermentation Tank Session)

Aquarius Records blurb for Murmur's Fermata

Aquarius Records Newsletter #282
Dec 2007

Murmur: An amazing acoustic drone record recorded in an old fermentation tank. Reverbb bb bb bb bb bb bb bb bb bbbbbbbbbbbb...

It's been raining Murmurs lately. Or Murmers. Or both. The last little while has given us the dark dronemusic of UK based Murmer aka sound sculptor Patrick McGinley. Then there's the dubstep pop ambient of the group Murmur with a 'u' that just came out (to be reviewed here soon). And there's definitely at least one other Murmer... and now we have -this- Murmur, also with a 'u', and we actually got an email from these guys about all the Murmurs and Murmers and they were talking about actually trying to do a three way collaboration! Cool.

This Murmur, is a loose collective of sound makers who gathered in an old decrepit brewery in New Orleans, where one of the players worked, and helped the others gain after hours access. The quintet dragged their instruments up into an old metal fermentation tank, dark and dank, with SO much natural reverb, that they couldn't even talk amongst themselves as the sounds would echo and overlap and turn into blurry smears of sound that would drown out the conversation. And so it was with any sound, the group had to barely play, barely breath, as every movement, every shuffle of the foot, would result in another layer of strange echoing sound. The building that housed the tank was subsequently damaged in Hurricane Katrina, then looted, and still stands abandoned and crumbling to this day.

Thankfully the resulting sounds are as fascinating as the story behind their creation. Using just acoustic guitars, harmonium, a tamboura-zither box, dobro, cymbal, Tibetan bells and vocals, the group, coaxed hushed sounds from their instruments, letting them interact with the alien acoustics of the tank around them. The various stringed instruments, their metallic buzz, billow into thick swells of reverberating low end, that occasionally transform into buzzing rhythmic pulses, always fading back into tranquil shimmers.

The organs wheeze, the vocals hum, the cymbals spread out like ripples in a pond, the percussion clatters and tinkles, the background rife with thumps and rattles, moans and creaks, but it's not just wispy drones and barely there rumbles, the band occasionally locks into some NNCK style shambolic freefolk, the guitars unfurling lazily, a constantly expanding smear of stumbling atonal riffage, drifting through a cloud of jangle and reverb, almost like a super lo-fi disembodied krautrock, the whole thing laced through with a nearly constant dronelike buzz, a sitar sounding shimmer that holds all the drifting sonic slabs together.