[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Someone had to cover these, otherwise all of this imagination will have been for naught. For the last seven years, Baron Mordant has been sporadically issuing these lengthy taste treats underneath the radar of the listening public’s temporal ear. Originally conceived as a monthly series, over time, the Travelogues have become much more than simple ambient experiments. They have run the gamut from introspective ponderings to menacing auditory landscapes, and now there are fifteen of them. Over two hours worth of strange atmospheres and droning exercises which chronicle the surroundings of the mind as no one else can. Given that he no longer releases full length albums, these compositions are as good as you’re going to get in terms of the purely Mordant experience.
The humble beginnings of this odyssey can be traced back to a record he put out entitled ‘The Tower’. There have been two sequels to this but the Travelogues are rooted in the first release, take a listen some time to it and you’ll start to notice the template beginning to form. Out of the field recordings and effective echoes the methodology which he employs to fashion his traveling works takes shape and you suddenly realize that this is what he’s been aiming for all along. Forget the collaborations he’s involved in or the odd single he puts out, the Travelogues form the spine of his musical enterprise. Without them, he’d probably just vanish, they’re the most personal of his creations. Each one has a back story and graphic to match, none of them are undertaken lightly.
Also of note is the connective nature of these compositions not only in numerical terms but as the nerve center which leads to other artists, namely C. Meniscus who has been a collaborator on some of these. Every person on this label has a title, they all no doubt have their roles and while their own projects are stamped with a unique musical identity when it comes time to work with IBM on one of his Travelogues it is thoroughly Mordant. I know this due to certain passages which exist exclusively within this microcosm, they move about in each piece and sometimes disappear completely. Know this, however, they always return. Even if there are years between their usage what you heard on the first one in some way, shape or form will come back at you at a later date.
But now that we’ve gone over the history let us consider the reasoning behind this undeniably compelling saga. If there is a plot to all of this, it is an obscure one. The characters are as follows: time, place and setting. The variables are those whom the Baron does or does not work with for each installment but the core instinctual artist outlet which is being exorcised remains an utter mystery. These tracks work on levels and at resolutions which are difficult, if not impossible, to keep pace with. Individually they are pleasant day trips into the grey matter; arrange them in sequential order and then proceed: it becomes a very different experience. Where natural beauty reveals a hidden, ominous undercurrent and the sky itself becomes a malevolent gateway to consciousness which lies beyond.
Do not be taken in at first impression by their whimsical overtones. Resist the temptation to write these off as merely the trifling cast-offs of an eccentric noodling with his equipment. This collection is a conscious one, full of exotic designs executed with a richly ornate panache. The details are everything, and so begins your indexing. Look for them deliberately and you’ll be lost forever but let them flow up, around and over you; the reward will be all you could wish for.