Nothing Left to Destroy
The Discofication of the Mongols, for violin and CPU (2009) [35:17]
S'Wonderful (That the Man I Love Watches over Me), for flute and CPU (2010) [26:57]
Benjamin Bowman (violin)
Douglas Stewart (flute)
MC Maguire (computer)
rec. mixed in Toronto, May 2011. DDD
INNOVA 813 [62:14]
This is, presumably, the future of 'classical' music as the postmodernist illuminati see it: a multi-layered wall of computer-generated sound literally and symbolically drowning out the Old Ways, as represented by Benjamin Bowman's violin and Douglas Stewart's flute. Innova describe this disc as "electro-acoustic, ethno-death-metal, versus environmental, classical-fusion-electronica in a UFC cage [not John-] match": it is not for those who have not wholeheartedly embraced the cultural homogenisation of the "iPod generation".
The first track, all 35 relentless minutes of it, is The Discofication of the Mongols, which, so it says, "concerns the loss of all indigenous culture to the monolith of western pop music" - how ironic that MC Maguire's creation comes across as a glorification of that undeniable truth. Benjamin Bowman surely could not have been listening to the computer content during recording, otherwise the mind-altering qualities of the überpop soundtrack would have induced violin rage. For a brief moment, after 17 minutes, the Death by Disco treatment inflicted on the listener seems to have ended, only to lurch back into gaudy life again - that was only the halfway mark!
Any mercy accruing from the fact that the second track is shorter by ten minutes is negated by the repetitious splicing - 'mashing' is the word of the moment, though 'garrotting' would also do - of three Gershwin tunes that Maguire's parents apparently played over and over when he was a child. S'Wonderful (That the Man I Love Watches over Me) was written in his mother's memory, but it is hard to believe that she or Gershwin would have particularly appreciated what he has done to them here: more chopping-changing sampling, manic electronic beats, a post-structuralist's spot-the-reference heaven, and a flute struggling to be heard.
From a technical point of view, the scale of the soundworlds is undeniably impressive - up to 300 tracks, according to Innova, and a decibel level to match at times. Sound quality is excellent. The booklet gives no information at all about MC Maguire - Innova's website describes him (or maybe her) as a "Toronto based electro-acoustic manipulator who has worked in every medium and genre as a composer/producer/engineer" - but there is plenty of pretentious stuff - and nonsense - about the two tracks.
Musically this is, despite the interesting soloist lines heroically performed by Bowman and Stewart, less interesting than listening from a bedroom window to an ice cream van going round the neighbourhood. Those who are fascinated by this kind of 21st century mumbo-jumbo will find all manner of references - 'intertextualities' - and semiotic rummage. MC Maguire will likely attract the same kind of cult following, just as unwarranted, as Frank Zappa. This is a CD only for the 'down' and trendy, then: before purchase, proof of smartphone ownership and popular Facebook account must be provided as a bare minimum.
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MC Maguire will likely attract the same kind of cult following, just as unwarranted, as Frank Zappa.