MEMEmusic by Unquiet Music LtdRelease date: February 3, 2023
On October 16, 1912, Arnold Schoenberg and former actress Albertine Zehme premiered the melodramatic opera, Pierrot Lunaire at the Berlin Choralion-Saal. Based on the selected poems by Albert Giraud, the reaction was mixed. Mostly whistles and laughter, but according to composer Anton Webern, it was an “unqualified success”.
Whenever a piece of music becomes challenging, you know that it’ll stay with you. From Trout Mask Replica, The Faust Tapes, Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh, to Univers Zero’s catalog, it can be very daunting. When you hear those albums originally, you may not have liked it in the first try. But after multiple listens, it stays with you and realising that there’s more from what you’re hearing on American Top 40 Radio.
Here’s one that just completely caught me off-guard. Unquiet Music Ltd is one of those projects that brings in members from Crimson, Stick Men, Lifesigns, Yang, and Earthdiver. And, in the words of Dean Martin, it is a real kick in the head.
Following up to their 2020 debut In The Name Of…(A Prayer for Our Times), MEMEmusic is a horizontal theme on human interaction, dealing with communication, and notions on the individual. It also tackles on re-discovering languages and realise that we are unique, and allowing us to wander into parallel universes.
As I’m writing this, playing the Lightfall expansion from Destiny 2 on my XBOX Series S, MEMEmusic is their approach to tell a story in operatic form. Following in the footsteps of not only Schoenberg, but Reich, Glass, and elements of the avant-prog textures, it’ll make your skin crawl.
Just as ‘Meme’ begins, the first two minutes and twenty-eight seconds goes through a swirling trance that’ll make your nightmares come to life. There’s the hallucinations, the voices, and having this cabin fever routing of going insane.
The vocals stand up and down in an operatic tone by making you understand that the pieces of the puzzles are moving slow until it makes it go very rapidly by putting them together as the craziness goes up to 100! Just as the Bass picks up, it goes through an intense improvisation as each of the vocals come together as a whole.
‘I Succumb’ sees the trance go through a marching tone that JP Rossi embarks on. You just vision the song, inside a mental institution as we witness one of the patients go through the motions of fascism coming towards the castle, and ruling the institute with an iron fist.
‘Towards the Edge’ has a mournful piano setting inside this electric forest before the mood suddenly changes into a Nine Inch Nails route with Zeppelin’s spooky intro from ‘No Quarter’ routine during the Pretty Hate Machine sessions while ‘Lament’ takes place in a ghost town, fuelling the tensions of Klaus Schulze’s Irrlicht, the Ohr years of Tangerine Dream’s Zeit-era, and the Aguirre score by Popol Vuh.
Reuter knows his krautrock roots very well and gives both Rossi and Terreau, a meditated guide of being free from the chaos that’s happening in the outside world. Now this is where all hell has broken loose.
With Troy James’ intensive drum beats that becomes the introduction on ‘Commuting Communion,’ you can just close your eyes and vision the trip-hop vibes, and poetic singing dialog during the pandemic. It becomes a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode at any second as Rossi and Brahmia’s chorus walk into a calypso territory with Reich handling the weirdness that’s happening.
‘Sometimes Love’ takes place in a post-apocalyptic scenery with Rossi becoming the last man on Earth, singing to the loss of a loved one, who got caught in the middle of a mushroom cloud. With its ‘80s new wave, ambient arrangements, you never know what will happen in the next chapter of this man’s life before he honours Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ in a sombering tone.
‘I Do Remember The Feeling’ goes into a classical, ska approach. Mind you, it’s a very interesting twist, but the way that Unquiet Music Ltd brings in, they take you to witness a bossa-nova vibe into the mix.
Levin lays down the Chapman stick on ‘Nemo Point’. I love how there is the Gabriel-sque atmosphere throughout the lyrics. You can tell that Tony pays nod to the first four albums that Peter released from the late ‘70s, into the early ‘80s. While you make a run towards the emerald forest, the vocals go up and down with a reprise ‘Meme’ on ‘Music (Is The Way Out)’ in a Gentle Giant tone from the Three Friends sessions.
The bonus track which is released only on CD, ‘Tom’s Wrong’ returns to the marching beat with an industrial attitude that speaks the Outside-era from the Nathan Adler diaries as the clues start to add up more. But once the Frippertronic atmosphere comes in, the case itself becomes even more challenging.
MEMEmusic may not be everyone’s cup of tea per se, but it’s quite the ride that each one of the team mates played a part to bring these themes to life as an oeuvre from start to finish.