Reviews Madensuyu Current

Madensuyu

Current

I’ll start with a request for the reader: think about genres and how difficult it truly is to define music. It’s hard to hold in your head. Take metal for example. It is obvious that Black Sabbath is metal and so is Isis, despite how different they are. It isn’t as obvious how one turned into the other gradually. The rules of metal are maddeningly complicated, and full of contradictions. What makes a genre like metal? Pretty soon we make a core doctrine of characteristics like distorted guitars, loud drums, solos—essentially extreme use of the rock formula. But as our doctrine gets larger we find in practice musicians don’t like to plagiarize; they evolve on the basis of what came before, sometimes subverting the rules. Metallica makes a ballad and the game changes. Madensuyu belong to an indie tradition far more protean and wispy than metal, making efforts to classify them unproductive and difficult.

I just moved to Ghent, Belgium, walked into a record store near a performance theater and saw this white/blue album from a local band. Not knowing anything about Madensuyu, I bought their album and was swept away. I listened to it over and over again during a 17-hour bus ride to Switzerland, desperately trying to take it serious. First, let’s get it out of the way, Madensuyu means sparkling water in Turkish.

I’m being playful, just like Current. At first listen it sounds cutely disorienting. Upon second listen, it embodies a narrowing of chaos into four elements: keyboard, drums, noise, and voice, punctuated at both ends by an eerily ominous ode. These four elements are the earth, air, fire, water of Current's world, and they are allegory to experience. They cannot take the place of reality, but project a world next to reality that stresses a metaphor of their music as ‘flood,’ ‘flow,’ ‘roar,’ in fluid tumult.

Both Ylode and Pieterjan dance between creative chaos, and solid musicianship, using the chaotic in a controlled manner. At times the lyrics are unpredictable, jumbled, mixed up and mispronounced. Typographic idiosyncrasies make it unclear whether Current is sloppy in its format on purpose or too mystically creative, bordering on neglectful. I imagine there is a combination of both, and weirdly enough it satisfies the albums chaotic yet measured essence. 

Unlike more poetic lyrics that stand on their own, Current’s lyrics exemplify complete adherence and self-reference to their music in it’s ambiguity. In other words, the music unlocks the meaning of the lyrics, and vice versa; they work together to bypass reasoning, and logic, by pointing behind their own door to its own essence. Their meaning is both hidden and uncovered in the music itself, for its own sake as a representation of reality's mutability.

What remains constant in Current is the 2-pieces chemistry, demonstrating tact and well-placed dynamics among instrumentation, guiding the listener’s full attention (if they choose to surrender) to the music. The song “The Flood The Flow The Roar” touches the most sublime moments of John Cage’In a Landscape. Yet in Current the landscape is a flow of energetic expression with surprising detail coming from minimal instrumentation, no doubt aided by the electronic noises spread in choice arrangement throughout. The tracks “It Comes Along” and “8 by Pieces” border on Philip Glass arrangements, while playfully dancing around intensities and whirling dynamics. 

Madensuyu’s bubbly swirling flow springs forth like a bottle of sparking water. Although, I have to stress that the point of Current is not about what it says, but how it says, and most importantly that it says. Most likely the lyrics are meaningless as much as they are used to prop up the music, which may represent what is most real. Current is a welcomed example where less is more, and its focus drives home its artistic unity. Although a little ambiguous lyrically, Current makes dream sense in its urging forward. While indie often sounds airy and weak like a punctured sail, Madensuyu relies on the groups’ unspoken chemistry to move the album strongly through its ebbs and flows, warps and waves 

8.0 / 10Robert F.
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8.0 / 10

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