Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (MT206)
1st to 3rd Instar
Recorded 2006-2007 in Portland, USA and at the Bear Den, Brighton, East Sussex, UK.
Limited edition of 500 copies.
Packaged in hard-bound mini LP sleeve with insert.
I have been a fan of the works of Mr. Liles and Mr. Menche for a while now, so this CD of their first ever collaboration is most welcome. And it looks great; packed in a hard carton slightly oversized CD sleeve with typical Liles-artwork. The 65+ minutes that form The progeny Of Flies are divided into 4 parts. Opener Eggs (signifying the first stage of the fly life cycle) features the now typical Liles-sounds augmented by Menche’s higher and harsher frequencies. In one word beautiful. The second track 1st To 3rd Instar features low frequency pulses before subtle piano chords (and reverbed pedals) set in. Again full marks to Liles and Menche. “Pupar” (the third track) starts off with a horse’s neigh. After that surprising intro we’re in a world filled with bass tones with plucked strings and percussive elements. Closing track Metamorphoses (to end the fly theme) features a low, almost prehistoric growl and Menche’s more noisy elements which builds up to a climax. The track ends with
piano and the buzzing sound of a fly. This CD, subtitled “tres muscae conummunt cadaver equi aeque cito ac leo”, which loosely and very cryptically translates into “three muscular complete corpses indeed quick justice and lion” is a gorgeous piece of work; beautiful, restrained and highly recommended! (FK)
Cyclic Defrost Magazine
‘When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro…’ – that saying might well apply to this bizarre collaboration between Andrew Liles and Daniel Menche. Anyone up for a dark ambient concept album about the life-cycle of flies? Don’t all rush at once…
Andrew Liles is an esoteric production maestro based in Brighton, who has worked with the likes of Nurse With Wound and Current 93, and Daniel Menche is an established noise musician from Portland, and this is their first collaboration. Separately, Liles and Menche have released – well, a lot of albums – I gave up counting them actually… But this is no mere soulless foray into the avant-garde. This is 100% genuine, straight-up, satisfaction-guaranteed-or-your-money-back weirdness, with a real artistry to it. The Progeny of Flies plays like the best soundtrack to the best film of the best Murakami novel that hasn’t yet been written.
You want sensurround drones? Tick. You want ghostly piano notes? Tick. You want the odd buzzing fly sound? Uh, tick. It’s all here – and then some. This is a great record, bursting with oneiric strangeness and somnambulistic intent. Deserves to sell more copies than Coldplay.
Posted: Tuesday, July 08, 2008
By: Matthew Johnson
Subtitled “Tres Muscae Consummunt Cadaver Equi Aeque Cito ac Leo,” a Latin quotation by Swedish biologist Carl Linnaeus that translates to “The progeny of three flies can consume a dead horse more quickly than a lion can,” this collaboration between experimental composers Andrew Liles and Daniel Menche is about as gruesome and morbid as its title suggests. With four tracks mirroring the four stages of the titular insect’s life cycle, The Progeny of Flies begins appropriately enough with “Eggs,” a minimalist ambient arrangement of drones in minor key harmonies; as the subtle drones are gradually overtaken by buzzing and distortion, there’s a feeling of ominous potential, a growing sense of imminent activity that represents the hatching of the maggots that take center stage on “1st to 3rd Instar” (“instar” being the scientific term for the developmental stages of arthropod larvae between moults and prior to sexual maturity). This track is perhaps the album’s most abstract, and the most difficult to connect with its subject matter; it’s not immediately obvious how the soft ambience and admittedly morbid piano keys tie directly with the image of soft-bodied fly larvae, though the muffled thuds do seem to make something of a parallel with the blind hungry motion of maggots. Conversely, “Pupa” begins with a frantic neighing that serves as an unexpectedly literal reminder of the album’s subtitle, though it quickly returns to quieter atmospheres. Like “Eggs,” this track represents a more quiescent stage of insect life, when the maggots cocoon themselves before emerging as fully-grown flies, but the potential for pestilence seems even stronger here, with loud hollow-sounding dulcimer plucking that serves as a jarring reminder of the intense biological activity taking place within the seemingly placid pupal form. “Metamorphosis” deals with that biological activity directly, with buzzing, string drones, and muffled percussion coming together in concert like the biological systems of an animal, ending with another literal parallel to the album’s title in the form of amplified buzzing wings. Alternating back and forth between ambient symbolism and more obvious sonic synecdoche, The Progeny of Flies is an effective portrait of nature at its most unapologetically grisly, but fans of Liles and Menche’s other dark experimental compositions are sure to appreciate this one as well.
“The Progeny of Flies” brings together two giants of the experimental electronic music scene. Both have consistent, regular and ongoing release schedules, either working on their own music or as part of other projects and tour continuously. Andrew Liles has worked with a long list of other artists including Current 93, Rose McDowall, Bass Communion, Nurse with Wound, The Hafler Trio, Joolie Wood, Edward Ka-spel and Jonathan Coleclough to name just a few. Daniel Menche has long been an experimental musician who focuses on creating beauty from chaotic sound comprising of drones, tones and strange electronic sounds. Liles work falls mostly on the ambient and rhythmic side of electronics where an attention to the subtleties of sound and the atmosphere it creates is all important. It is this diversity of approach that makes this collaboration such an exciting prospect. Consisting of four lengthy tracks, “The Progeny of Flies” is based around the early life cycle of a fly from egg to insect. Tracks range from just under 14 minutes to 22 minutes in length and the first edition of 700 copies comes packaged in a deluxe book bound sleeve.
“Eggs” starts out with ghostly almost choral tones sweeping around in the distance while undulating tones rise and fall and a low drone rumbles discretely by, the mood heightening as the track progresses. It could easily represent the first stage in the creation of the insect progeny, such is the subtlety of the sound and the way it hints at the formation of life, the intensity of the droning background very slowly building and becoming more assertive. “1st to 3rd Instar” is even more subtle in tone, utilising more space and quiet, carefully placed sounds, gentle piano keys and a discrete but ever-present heartbeat like thump indicating a progression in the formation of the insect as the process slowly continues. After “Pupa” delivers an immediate shock right from the start it then presents a darker mood, the strings are metallic, slightly harsh and aggressive and the entire atmosphere is much tenser as though waiting for something unpleasant to happen. When it arrives, the mood gets darker still, otherworldly moans are emphasised by deep rumbling drones and slow heaving tones. “Metamorphosis” closes the album with the sound of the fly emerging from the safety of its catalyst, the urgency of the music becomes more apparent and layered whirs of electronic string-like sounds sweep in to represent the buzzing of insect wings and the swarming of flies as they emerge from their incubation.
As you might expect from such a pairing, “The Progeny of Flies” is a wonderful collaboration of two accomplished and respected artists in their field. Generally combining the intricate ambient subtleties of Liles work with the louder sound crafting elements of Menche’s output, the album benefits from their considerable experience in the creation of experimental electronic music. Dark and intensely atmospheric but accurately realised and executed as you would expect from two artists of this standing.
Written by Matthew Amundsen
Sunday, 13 July 2008
cover image Prolific artists Andrew Liles and Daniel Menche combine forces to tackle the subject of flies. Divided into four tracks named for the stages of a fly’s life cycle, Liles and Menche blend their talents in a heady mix of drones and subtle textures, with vaguely melodic underpinnings. The album has enough unpredictability to make it both mystifying and alluring while still playing to the artists’ respective strengths.
“Eggs” opens with heavy drones that are soon balanced by eerie, slight melodies smeared across the distant background. It’s a haunting or at the very least mysterious effect, and the sly introduction of other textures, like faint distortion or mechanical cycles, increases the tension as the track progresses. Heavier bass-wise but overall quieter “1st to 3rd Instar” is also dotted with patches of Liles’ piano that aren’t a whole lot different from the various “Anhedonia” riffs from his Vortex Vault series. Juxtaposed against whisper-level drones and occasional machine thumps, they sound lonely and bleak. This track is the album’s most introspective and comes like the calm before a storm.
The action picks up on “Pupa” with a horse’s anguished neigh. It’s brief but startling enough to reawaken ears that may have grown dormant over the course of the last track. Bouncing bass tones and a tinny plucked melody lead into metallic overtones, submerged pounding, and faintly buzzing strings that hint of menace. Things come to a head with the finale “Metamorphosis.” Not only do the buzzing strings return more agitated than ever, high-pitched screeches like a cacophony of punctured brass instruments grow in a fierce chorus. There’s a brief respite before, at last, the flies themselves make an appearance before fading into the void from which they had come.
Liles and Menche make the most of this collaboration, imbuing it with their unique sensibilities to give the album the effective impression of a narrative arc. While this album skirts around territory visited in some of their other work, here the combination of their skills entrances the ear in an entirely different way altogether.
The first collaboration between experimental artists Andrew Liles and Daniel Menche recorded from 2006 to 2007 in Portland, Oregon. The Progeny of Flies is, not surprisingly, an odd spin. The disc features otherworldly experimental sound collages that are subtle and hypnotic. The album is divided into four parts: “Eggs,” “1st to 3rd Instar,” “Pupa,” and “Metamorphosis.” Somehow or another, these two fellows have managed to effectively present sounds that seem to embody the world of insects (?). This music is extraordinarily esoteric and peculiar…not at all intended for the typical music fan. Note that the first 700 copies are encased in a deluxe book bound case. We have become huge fans of the Beta-lactam Ring label over the past few months…and The Progeny of Flies is an excellent example of why we are now so passionately hypnotized. This is a pure and unique recording that sounds like no other. An easy TOP PICK for this month… (Rating: 5+++)
The Progeny of Flies finds Liles and Menche presenting a heady, atmospheric and disturbed suite of songs built around darkly hued ambient tone, sustained organ dread, creepy and sinister looped subtle rhythmic elements and simple yet damn creepy piano notation.
The album is built around 5 longish tracks lasting nearon 70 minutes in all, First up is the track Eggs which as it title suggests does bring to mind the slow laying of fly eggs on decaying flesh, faeces and rot- with seemingly the rapidity of laying growing as the track builds up. The track is built around hypnotic gothic horror like organ tones and sustains that really seem to worm there way into you mind with their simmering sinister harmonic air. Next up is 1st to 3rd instar which starts off with looped knocking & brooding buoy type rhythmic tone and deep bass death hits- Menche really building up such a tangible feeling of decay, fear and menace. At about 5 minute mark Liles appears making you jump out of your skin with a series of simply yet goose bump inducing skeletal piano notes that are haunting, gothic and just slightly discordant. With Menche continuing his dread filled march underneath- really very creepy, yet at the same time oddly beautiful.
Next up is the track Pupa which starts off with an alarming horse like sound before opening up into bassy and gloomy rhythmic revolutions with the note sequence from 1st to 3rd instar returning but in a more jarring/sharp manner feeling like the melody is been bloody and painful yanked, ripped and stabbed from the instrument. At about midway point this element drops out and the pair build up a heady, shadowy mix of didgeridoo, gong, grim sinning bowl and sawing violin tones. Lastly we have Metamorphosis which starts with rhythmic textures that could well be internal piano scapes and saws-over this a unnerving tapestry of scratching, feeding, sinister purring is built along with gong tones, before a building pitch black cinematic horn/ string tone mix enters that reachers quite penetrating and powerful heights. Towards the end Liles returns for a few runs of atmospheric piano playing before the feasting and brooding sustain feel returns once more and it exits with fly buzzing tone. A great climatic end to the suite of songs.
The album is packed in a simply yet effective white on black stiff card folder with a circles drawings of fly bodies. The Progeny of Flies is one of the most hypotonic, darkly compelling and at times downright terrifying hours worth of sonic atmospher that you’ll sit through this year, but you’ll have act fairly quickly to get a copy it as it’s only ltd to 500 copies.
Both Andrew Liles and Daniel Menche are respected experimental musicians in their own right. Liles has worked with a long list of artists including Current 93, Nurse with Wound, The Hafler Trio and Edward Ka-Spel. His music focuses largely on the darker aspects of ambient and rhythmic electronics. Menche on the other hand creates beauty from chaos in the form of drones, tones and assorted electronic shards of sound. Both are prolific and have extensive back catalogues and busy release schedules. A collaboration between the two is an exciting prospect for those familiar with their work. “The Progeny of Flies” is, as the title suggests, an electronic interpretation of the life cycle of a fly from an egg to its first flight. Over the duration of four lengthy musical pieces, each representing a stage in the life cycle, Liles and Menche sonically represent the creation of a tiny life by mixing Liles penchant for dark atmospheres with Menche’s noisier and more abrasive elements. “Eggs” is full of atmospheric subtleties, representing the earliest stages of incubation where life signs are small but the egg is starting to grow. The mood is subtler still throughout “1st to 3rd Instar” where the sounds are sparse and the mood delicate but heavy on atmosphere. “Pupa” is darker and more abrasive with metallic strings and a tense mood perhaps depicting the more obvious signs of growth and activity of the life within. Closing the album is “Metamorphosis”, the final stage that sees the emergence of the recognisable form of the fly. The urgency of the music becomes more apparent and the buzzing of the fly in flight is the focus with the hum of the swarm buzzing all around. “The Progeny of Flies” is beautifully crafted with apparent care and consideration. Each piece has its role and meaning to the album as a whole and Liles and Menche execute it perfectly. Paul Lloyd