David Moss ‘Terrain’


01 Terrain #1 (4:58)
02 Terrain #2 (2:53)
03 Terrain #3 (2:39)
04 Terrain #4 (1:52)
05 Terrain #5 (4:20)
06 Terrain #6 (0:57)
07 Terrain #7 (1:43)
08 Phrase (3:05)
09 Talk (5:08)
10 Tongue (8:05)
11 Niche (6:04)

Total time: 41:30
LP released by Cornpride, ref. 007, 1980
[Letter above, presumably to Michael Lytle, came with the LP]

dmossThis is David Moss‘ first solo LP after he took part to a few collective albums and a duo during the 1970s, all involving guitarist Baird Hersey. ‘Terrain’ was released on Cornpride, an artist-run label where the Meltable Snaps It (Moss+Cartwright+Lytle) first LPs would appear in 1979 and 1981 (see massive discography here). It seems at this early stage, Moss (born 1949) considered himself a mutli-instrumentist, not only a virtuoso singer. And indeed this record is evidence of a great skill for sound textures, specifically on cymbals and steel drums, which he parallels with beautiful vocal tapestries. Moss is playing a large assortment of percussion instruments of all kind, including many chinese gongs and even some Bertoia sound sculpture at some point (recognizable on tr.#1, 7 & 9), favoring long resonant sounds and contrasting them with short, unusually pitched drumming. To give you an idea, you would think some of the percussion parts on side A comes from Morton Feldman’s ‘The King Of Denmark’ score. Similarly, some vocals (syllables only) sound like exotic birds out of a botanical garden. For a percussionist (Moss studied percussion in the 1960s), there are remarkably few endeavours in rhythm and square beats on this LP and the percussion assortment is sometimes used merely as a tone generator providing pitch for the voice. Playing and singing is mostly sparse, if not minimal, each track using only one or two percussion instruments at the same time. Moss uses multi-track recording to create complex, intertwined glossolalias – a mysterious, non-western web of voices. I think the cover sums it all: exotic color, minimalism and a bird in the drawing. On a side note, this album works remarkably well in conjunction with Michael Snow’s The Last LP, that I’m re-listening to these days. 2 highly original composers of idiosyncratic sound worlds.


9 Responses to “David Moss ‘Terrain’”

  1. 1 bombardino November 26, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    many thanks for resuming this forgotten treasure… moss is one of the true originals…

  2. 2 continuo November 26, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Very original, I agree. Thx for commenting.

  3. 3 Lucky November 27, 2008 at 1:17 am

    another rarity you dig out here! i haven’t heard something that early from moss – i expect s’thing rather quirky here, tough shit, i guess. imo he transformed the drums in a very unique way, and his way of singing only extends the way he uses rhythm. full risk. thx for sharing, continuo! :)

  4. 4 continuo November 27, 2008 at 8:09 am

    You’re welcome, Lucky. ‘Rhythm’, I’m not sure. The way he uses his drum kit is almost Webernian, a klangfarbenmelodie (or tone-color-melody), sort of.

  5. 5 Patricio November 28, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Thanks for posting all this music completely new to my ears.

  6. 6 continuo November 28, 2008 at 8:20 am

    You’re welcome, Patricio.

  7. 8 Michael B December 12, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Nice to see this long OOP gem. Keep posting all the cool stuff you do.

  8. 9 continuo December 13, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    And keep posting nice comments, Michael!

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