Notes & Reviews:
The new MC Maguire CD, 'Nothing left to Destroy', is the follow up to 'Trash of Civilizations' (2009) and 'Meta-Conspiracy' (2007). Once again up to 300 tracks of CPU [that's Central Processor Unit to non-computer folk] mayhem, subterfuge, chicanery, skullduggery, and a smidgen of jiggery-pokery are pitted against a virtuosic live soloist, in a to-death-do-us-part showdown. The overall effect is electro-acoustic, ethno-death-metal, versus environmental, classical-fusion-electronica in a UFC cage [not John-] match.
MC Maguire is a Toronto based electro-acoustic manipulator who has worked in every medium and genre as a composer/producer/engineer.
Maguire seems strangely unaware of many practical, musical endeavors, while being clearly aware of how to manipulate his material. For instance, his sound production, in the opinion of this reviewer, has been honed to near perfection over the years, reaching a plateau of sheer mastery with "Nothing left to Destroy'. At the same time, his liner notes, in which he reports in detail the arcane structural points of his work keep us wondering whether he is putting us on. If indeed he is, he needs to continue putting us on in future, because it's entertaining. If, however, he is not, then he needs to be reminded that when one fire-bombs a city, rubble ensues. Imagine a game where someone challenges you to recite from memory the value of Pi to the 200th decimal place while setting off high explosives dangerously nearby.
Additionally, given his artistic worldview as stated above, if he claims there is nothing left to destroy, he might also be implying there is nothing left to create! This may be confirmed by the first cut of his new release. "The Discofication of the Mongols" for Violin and CPU, played with true virtuosic fervor by Benjamin Bowman, never really lives up to the daunting power of the earlier "Trash... ". One of the striking aspects of Maguire's music is his tendency to blow his wad not once, not twice, but multiple times throughout, almost to the point where the listener can consume his pieces in installments and get multiple orgasms for the price of just one. The bolgias that inhabit his music can be so vast and numbered that it is really hard to believe they could ever be played loud enough to be fully heard. It is little wonder then, that this piece is more an echo of "Trash..." and less an expression of its own. One may freely interpret this as a weakness of the present track, or as a testament to the power of "Trash...".
With the second cut, however, Maguire belies his album title. "S’Wonderful (That the Man I Love Watches Over Me)" for Flute and CPU, played hauntingly by Douglas Stewart, with quotes from the Gershwin songs intimated in its title, as well as Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" and other choice diatonic and pan-diatonic hits, contains some of the more striking music Maguire has ever written, or recorded, or... shall we say, "destroyed in order to create". Witness a section early on (@3:10) where the soloist, repeating a chromatic melodic figure, is accompanied by a pulsing kalimba-like sound whose harmonies rise and then fall microtonally; or an area involving women speak-singing in dream tongues (@7:00). Then, recurring angelic effects involving echoed flute combined with sounds suggesting wind-chimes and string harmonics; or the recurrence of what sounds like a metronome doubled by a celesta. Finally, the treat of hearing the composer sing wispily through the first verse of "S'Wonderful" in a voice recalling his Matinee Idols baritone, and the haunting conclusion that brings together the metronome, the celesta, the earlier melodic effects and the voices of angels - all of it somewhat of a surprise coming from a composer who feels he must destroy to create. The more sentimental passages are trampled on by sounds of crashing television sets, stampeding horses, coughing radio static, hammerlike echoes of gigantic orchestras from hell, invading fighter jets, and people speaking menacingly in all sorts of languages. Here, perhaps because of the choice of flute, perhaps because of the diatonic influences of Gershwin, Debussy et al; the piece drips a little more of estrogen than testosterone for a change. Still, one must assume that the piece is more veiled autobiography. "Here are scenes from my childhood... See how sordid and repulsive they are in light of the world in which we live? And yet see how meaningful I can make them!"
No matter what one thinks of Maguire's music/cacophony/multissimo-layered masterpieces, one thought is hard to escape. There is always a daunting brilliance exploding from the music like the stench of victory in the morning. MC Maguire, to those who know his music, has a definite place on the map. One can only try to imagine Planet Earth, as it will be 150 years hence, when his music is piped into elevators.
Submitted on 11/03/11 by sir100
Works DetailsMaguire, MC : The Discofication of the Mongols, for violin & computer
- Performers: Benjamin Bowman (Violin); Composer] MC Maguire [Producer (Electronics)
- Running Time: 35 min. 17 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Written: 2009
Maguire, MC : S'Wonderful (That the Man I Love Watches over Me), for flute & computer
- Performers: Douglas Stewart (Flute); Composer] MC Maguire [Producer (Electronics)
- Running Time: 26 min. 58 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Written: 2010