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MoHa!: One-Way Ticket to Candyland

John Kelman By

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Following up the dense mesh of noise improv, outrageous electronics, angry rock rhythms, and occasional ambient relief of Norwegianism (Rune Grammofon, 2007), Norwegian duo MoHa! shifts gears on the more structured One Way Ticket to Candyland.

Anders Hana and Morten J. Olsen—who, between the two of them, create a joyous noise on conventional instruments like guitar, keyboards, and drums but take them to sonic extremes with all manner of electronic manipulation—may have created music with some basis in form this time, but it's still not for the faint-at-heart. The irregularly metered, hypnotically repeated techno beat of "Sopp Pa Kugen" even sports a primitive melody, but everything suddenly stops and a more spacious—but still industrial sounding—collage of textures takes over, with the duo heading into more open-ended improvisational territory. It's not exactly calming, but it is a respite from some of One-Way Ticket to Candyland's more relentless aural assaults.

Still, as a more considered alternative to Norwegianism's reckless abandon, tracks like "Prog-o-Rama" demonstrate just how far a concept can be taken. A complex confluence of rhythm, staggered melody, and extravagant sounds—even coalescing, briefly, around something resembling the theme to the 1960s Batman television show—progressive rock may be a part of MoHa!'s DNA, but it's been filtered through such a thick lens that it's barely recognizable, even to the hardest of the hardcore. "Aids of Space" even resolves into a four-on-the-floor pulse, but Olsen's turbulent drumming and the duo's overall harsh soundscapes turn even the most form-based tracks into visceral, near-cathartic experiences.

Prismatically refracting sound through electronic devices means that even if there are distinct rhythms, melodies, and structured sections, there remains a pervasive sense of adventure—danger, even—throughout One Way Ticket to Candyland's relatively short 37 minutes. Hana and Olsen's control of the mad scientist-like laboratory they use to shape these nine pieces—almost all longer than the 16 brief, improvised miniatures on Norwegianism—makes certain that, despite no shortage of unpredictability, One Way Ticket to Candyland feels more cogent than its predecessor.

The tracks don't actually segue into one another, but listening to the album in its entirety—truly the only way to really experience it—feels otherwise. MoHa!'s music evokes the rawest, roughest of emotions. Even it's at its sparest, One-Way Ticket to Candyland is a harrowing experience that's not for everyday listening. Still, its unfettered imagination, sonic experimentation, and skewing of recognizable constructs into something new makes it an album that doesn't just bear repeated listens, it commands them.

Track Listing: It Burns Twice; Karibcore; Sopp Pa Kugen; Prog-o-Rama; Aids of Space; Too Smart Enough to Think; The Shitman; Oh My God It's Rave; # Outro.

Personnel: Anders Hana: guitar, keyboard, drum machine; Morten J. Olsen: drums, supercollider3.

Title: One-Way Ticket to Candyland | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon

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