Matthew Bourne looks like a rugged character, an image that doesn’t quite sync with the nuanced ambient ramblings of Moogmemory. Bourne is into the people and lore of the Memorymoog synthesiser, he has a strong affinity with what sounds like a particularly challenging instrument to get on song. I wasn’t aware that such things required tuning let alone are inclined to go out of tune, but then if you read what Robert Fripp has to say about getting Mellotrons to behave this is probably a common issue with early analogue synths. The synth that Bourne uses is a Lintronics Advanced Memorymoog, modified by Rudi Linhard to be more reliable with greater tuning stability. It has an appealing tone, an often soft and distinctly undigital sound that is at odds with the image of synthesizers. Bourne proves that this example has plenty of range with a selection of pieces for which the term ambient is inexact, however the absence of voice and rhythm elements combined with the quiet nature of some pieces encourages that generalisation.
Track ‘Nils’ is the first to break the ambient mould with some staccato attack over a soft burble, the following track has something of the deep space about it, it’s dark and brooding, melding into distorted highs that could be the cries of dying star. It’s not always comfortable stuff but it is powerful and brings to mind Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. By the sixth track ‘Andrew’ things have moved onto a church organ style that avoids the usual classical influences. The follow up ‘Horn & Vellum’ gets heavier and wakes one from reverie with the closest thing to a driving rhythm that this album delivers, combining disparate sounds in an invigorating fashion before burbling to a slow denouement. The final piece, ‘I Loved Her, Madly’ is a lament with another, lower pitched, organ sound that suits the tone of this synth beautifully. Moogmemory is a diverse and colourful reflection of the capabilities of an instrument that’s rarely heard alone and the compositional intuitions of Bourne, thanks to him the Memorymoog is no longer just a cult eighties synth but the conduit for some truly original material.