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Paste Noel Gardner , October 28th, 2022 07:11

Post-rock, live dub and some increasingly threatening spoken word – it's all in the mix with the latest from Joe Andrews, Tom Halstead and Valentina Magaletti, finds Noel Gardner

When Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead first released music as Moin, about a decade ago, the script seemed to be that it was a sideline from their other, already established project – moody quasi-technoists Raime – that allowed them to get down with big clonking post-hardcore/math/noiserock type guitar action in a way the main gig didn’t allow. Things have proved less linear than that: in 2022, Moin are now a trio (completed by versatile percussionist Valentina Magaletti) and appear to be more ‘active’ than Raime. Their most recent album, Tooth, was released in 2016 and itself went some way to splicing quote-unquote electronic music with arch rocking of the 90s Touch & Go Records ilk.

Paste, the second Moin album, approaches from the other end of the pavilion, being a guitar/bass/drums affair at its core but exhibiting plenty of non-rock influence. ‘Forgetting Is Like Syrup’ has the air of live dub techno, including the sound of some sort of mishap – glass breaking, or even the proverbial set of cutlery being dropped? – employed as a percussion effect. ‘Life Choices’, again, betrays Andrews and Halstead’s production background, with Magaletti playing something like breakbeats for good measure.

On the album opener, ‘Foot Wrong’, the pitter-patter of tidy beats we get is her playing style at its most identifiable, certainly if you know her from previous duo Tomaga; there’s also dub subtlety in the bass pulses, and a keenness to rethink rock tropes that call to mind Tortoise, Aerial M, Uzeda and This Heat. Elsewhere, Moin’s guitarist/s (neither Andrews or Halstead have specific musician credits) could be trying some favoured tones on for size: the enervating fuzz of Slint’s ‘Breadcrumb Trail’ on ‘Melon’, early Mogwai during ‘Hung Up’, a transition from Dylan Carlson to Aaron Turner, ‘Sink’, that closes out the album. Influences are rarely crystal clear on Paste, but it’s by no means a sound without precedent.

Perhaps Moin’s most distinctive aspect is the spoken voices we hear on most of these nine songs, which may confound some listeners. They’re all in American accents, oddly for a group from London, and again aren’t attributed to anyone in particular. On ‘Yep Yep’, they’re arranged a little like an early hip-hop collage; elsewhere the phrasing hints at microfiction without really telling a story, if you follow. ‘Melon’ repeats this passage – “Hello? Do you hear me? Can you hear me? You don’t know me. But I know you. I sure as fuck know you” – pivoting sharply from pleading to threatening, and never giving us the merest hint of why. Paste is raw, emotional music whose kernel you will never locate – yet you may enjoy the wild goose chase.