Optimistic Modernism by Cao x Siedl x Seidel


Lan Cao + Gregor Siedl + Wolfgang Seidel | Optimistic Modernism
Moloko Plus (CD/DL)

Alright, try and get comfy while I put on this new disc from the trio of Lan Cao (keys) + Gregor Siedl (wind instruments) + Wolfgang Seidel (percussion). Optimistic Modernism (inspired by the architecture this was recorded in, a former Rotaprint factory) is a collection of eight “best of” tracks from a 3.5 hour session by these three skilled musicians. As Jettatura begins the listener is aboard some sort of retro cosmic craft of some sort. Bumps, clangs, sniffles and other buzz is all kept to a fairly minimal intonation, though something is brewing under the hood.

As a nod to the building they invest in sounds that spark thoughts of industry, the motors move the machine that rotates in such a quirky animated fashion. A restrained musique concréte evolves and it’s a pleasant collection of effects that play between Les Baxter, Stockhausen, and a sci-fi Looney Tunes. There is a grace with each spring and soft padded foot exploring the grounds of East Anglia. This is a shoe-in favorite for gamers, radio broadcast enthusiasts and mad scientists everywhere. It’s never over-the-top or silly, more analytical and offbeat.

For all its angles and improv the resulting atmosphere on Robin Hood Gardens plays with Japanese themes in timing, with it’s sudden gongs and softened flair. There’s a wooziness being woven under the lil’ melodies, like a hidden trap door, there must be, as the setting becomes more and more cinematic. It is as if the walls are all receding and the room size increasing (like the haunted mansion at Disney). The poker-faced cadence makes it seem like we are sitting ducks as the percussion starts to deliver its abstraction of bangs and reels. But the xylophone, somehow, makes everything magical under its harmonic spell.

Elsewhere on this record the trio entertains with hinted tribal vibes, angular jazzy riffs and a psychedelic trip thanks to The Sixth Sense. But the mood shifts dramatically on Barbican Estate, things become far more airy, almost insect-like. They somehow concoct a feel of the outdoors, of nature, churning inward, twisting, winding, with bearing. Partly the inner workings of a town square clocktower, but its all about free association by way of these incredible sound effects. The Ghibli Garden takes us out with the screetching flair of discordance and unrest. Though they find themselves in this limbo-istic predicament somehow they contain and restrain themselves by time-releasing these incredibly intuitive audio-visual holdings.

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