Andy Moor, co-founder of the Unsounds label with Yannis Kyriakides and Isabelle Vigier, has long been acquainted with improvisation from his days playing in Dog Faced Hermans, The Ex, and Kletka Red. Moor has a history of shaping his electric guitar's pulsating voice in dialogues with his mates and with the many famous guests they had, from Tom Cora to Getatchew Mekuria. Looking back at what he's done during the past ten years, it's impossible not to be surprised by his open minded involvement in projects which could stimulate his attitude towards conversing - musically speaking - with someone else (by improvising) or with moving images (by realizing soundtracks). From what I know, his only "soliloquy" guitar record "Marker", also on Unsounds, is arguably one of his less decipherable works due to its intimate nature, requiring of the listener a very high level of attention to the detail. His poetics of shaping fragments by building patterns out of strummed electrified strings remains recognizable, whether he is playing with Kaffe Matthews, or John Butcher and Thomas Lehn, or Yannis Kyriakides, or Anne-James Chaton, just to name a few others represented on the same label, but surprisingly his touch always gets deeply connected with the other's approach.
Moor's companion in "Everything But The Beginning", definitely one of his best recent works, is Colin McLean, here contributing electronics. Both were members of Dog Faced Hermans at one time, but have not played together since Those Deep Buds (1994). This new collaboration, which developed during the past three years, was meant to accompany dance performances at OT301 in Amsterdam, and is here represented in eleven tracks.
The overall atmosphere is quite cinematic, yet each single piece has its own proper identity. The basic structure, often mutating two or three times within the same track, is given by beats, pulses and deep, dark background sounds fading out and into each other, which are created mostly in real-time by McLean based upon Moor's guitar playing, and partly from field recordings. For example, the opening "Delta Block" begins with a rainy and misty mood, reminiscent of some passages from John Fahey's Red Cross; then mutating into a dark blues which would give goosebumps to David Lynch, and then finally opens itself into an overwhelming and highly evocative crescendo. One might call this "ambient" for the accuracy in shaping atmospheres, but it truly stands out of any fixed genre. The title track, in contrast, is built mainly from looped pulsations of dense vibrating guitar strings, overlaid to Moore's free improvisation, until an electronic drone comes out like a choir of outer space lifeforms. "Cokakeekakaacokakakeeka" is the onomatopoeic title for a montage of manipulated voices, music and field recordings, what Czukay might have done in the spirit of Canaxis if he had back then the devices used nowadays by Simon Pyke, and the unique matching counterpart of Moore's guitar. "My Electric Dreams" is one of the best dubstep tracks you could ever hear: dark, repetitive, hypnotic and meditative, akin to the best Burial, except for an even more exasperated "distance" of the beats' position in the aural space, and for the guitar's scratches at the fore, developing the narration.
It's always a little miracle when loops, beats and improvisation match in such an indissoluble way, as happens in most of the tracks here: it's not so much a representation of nature, but of the uncanny yet fascinating and even comforting atmosphere of contemporary city life. We can find this also in Mark Nelson, but McLean and Moor's aesthetic always went in another direction: it looks in depth at today, employs today's instruments and "ways of operating", represents today's world, and nonetheless it catches us with something primordial, like going back towards where our conscience and physical body come from. Which also teaches us something about the time and place we're living in and about ourselves, and means this is a recommended release.