Restored 06 June 2017, originally published 10 August 2014
Since I began writing for Netlabelism, I’ve wanted to review a certain dynamic duo: Mr. Moods and LR-60.
I suspect Mr. Moods (a.k.a. Christian Denis) needs little or no introduction for the netlabel community. But for the unfamiliar, he’s a prolific hip-hop/jazz/electronic producer with something on the order of 70 albums to his name. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Mr. Denis has produced a number of compilation albums as well as collaborations with other artists. One prodigious example of his collaborations is 2013’s A Tale of Three Heads [http://netlabelism.com/review/wax-triptych-a-tale-of-3-heads/] under the Wax Triptych moniker which featured Mononome, Jenova 7, and Mr. Moods. Another example is what I’m reviewing today, Coldest Memories, which was produced with LR-60.
LR-60 is a long-time trumpet player by the name Skip Warren. Before his work with Mr. Moods, Mr. Warren had a long career playing his trumpet with a laundry list of jazz, blues, and soul artists. For a more complete list, check the SoundCloud link provided at the bottom.
In classic Mr. Moods style, the beats are downtempo and mellow. The sense of percussion and the balance thereof create a sort of connect-the-dots soundscape which is augmented by distortions, turntablism, and a plethora of samples. On their own, the beats are solid and construct a nearly complete picture of the track. Completion of Coldest Memories comes with collaboration with LR-60. The trumpet’s soaring notes and haunting melodies fill the gaps to produce a full, immersive audio-image.
The overall mood of the album is dark and foreboding with a chilling sense of familiarity. The samples present on the album underscore this idea. The clearest examples are those of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey; specifically the sample on “Hal & Dave”.
“Let me put it this way…The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.”
Such a statement is an invitation to calamity. The instrumentation also emphasizes the mood, which can be heard in the deep, trudging bass, tinkling of chimes, and the broad implementation of the trumpet (high, low, muted, clear, short, long).
One of the most outstanding tracks to me is “Mirage”. With such a name one expects to experience sensations of dubious authenticity. The humming of the synthesizer at the beginning summons a sort of haze in which the rest of the track’s elements occur. The initial beat is a wet, trilling percussion that is definitely there yet seems insubstantial. Around a minute in, a more substantial beat is introduced, but this seems to hypnotize with its steady nature thus amplifying the experience. The vocal samples lack definition, with one exception. A mechanical voice asking “Will I dream?” Halfway through the track, most of the elements calm down before rearranging themselves, like a dream or hallucination gone rampant. The rapid strumming of a lute or zither adds a frenetic sensation to the experience.
Let’s not forget the trumpet. The trumpet in “Mirage” gives me goose bumps. The high pitch and wild variation removes all sense of control (not that there was much to be had anyway). The track is happening whether I like it or not, and the best I can do is strap myself in for the experience.
Together, LR-60 and Mr. Moods compose music of a quality few achieve.
LR-60 & Mr. Moods – “Mirage”
Coldest Memories download page