The Maghreban: Horse/Casio – Zoot Records

Sometimes you take a chance on a record because something about it just catches you right regardless about how little you know about it. Years ago I bought a weird electro 12″ that was based around the catch phrases of Jimmy Saville. Almost everyone I knew proved that they had taste and shunned me every single time I played it, just as the world should have done with Saville himself. It wasn’t awful exactly, it’s just that writing music based around a terrifying pervert reciting the words ‘Rattle rattle jewellery’ over and over again until madness descended was no gateway to hands in the air dance-floor nirvana, and although we didn’t fully know what Saville himself was up to, the fact that the record was pretty crap and everyone hated it except me should have been enough to stop me playing it. I didn’t. I am an idiot.

So given that, it should probably come as no surprise to those that know me best that my catching sight of an image of what appeared to be a Casio keyboard threatening an angry looking horse would lead to a sure-fire purchase. I don’t know anything about the mysterious Maghreban except this quote I found on Discogs:

The Maghreban sits hunched over arcane hardware amid piles of records, his cranium haunted with the echoes of Satin Storm and 10 kilowatt suburban microdot nightmares. Ears not troubled by current fads, The Maghreban’s style has developed in neurotic isolation.

And I know only slightly less than nothing about Zoot Records except that they are an offshoot of Boot Records specialising in ‘Odd Instrumental beats and House Music’ – both of which seem to be present and correct here.

Horse, the almost imperceptibly straighter of the two tracks on offer is a slow waddle of great big clomping beats and rolling hand drums held together by a bass so thick it’s less a sound and more a sonic paste. Bursts of electronics flare and spiral into the nothingness beyond hearing. An occasional wash of synth sets you up for a grand musical statement – only to vanish behind the Maghreban’s demented plans.

Casio reels in on scattered kicks and huge maracas, the sparse casio stabs push and pull like the breeze on desert grasses. And while you’re marvelling at the sheer empty beauty of it, a slithering bass comes out of the dunes to lead the tune into some demented funk. It builds so slowly with so much control that you never notice how much it’s taken over. It’s like watching the sun rise over somewhere very hot when it’s very, very cold.

I’m not going to speculate on who this warped figure is, mainly because I always think that anonymous guises are probably hiding Ritchie Hawtin or Peter Gabriel or The Proclaimers or someone doing something interesting when I know, deep down, there is just no way it could be. I don’t really care. I’ll go with the Discogs quote on this one. This is the sound of living on the edge of emptiness in a brick hut with nothing but a vast, almost sentient modular rig for company. Oddball, out there, and off the beaten track in every conceivable way. Sometimes it pays off to just take a chance, and I think the Maghreban knows that too.