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PLATE LUNCH catalog #: PL05


Marc McNulty - Powdered_Iron_Rods (CD) PL05 / released July 1998.



1: N-type-Region 06:49
2: Field-effect 03:49
3: Internal View 09:07
4. Standing Wave 11:42
5: Aging of Signals 25:42

Total running time: 57:09



"It's hard to work out how the dark sonic abstractions heard on this disc were created. I'd guess that all sorts of gadgetry are made use of, with much in the way of over-amplification, treatments, etc. Generally the sound is very electronic and metallic, sounding artificially resonant, and vivid. There's little focus to it, except a kind of composition structure that keeps the interest (most of the time). But, without any frame of reference or musical context, it amounts to a form of sound art that defies conventional description. In its many phases of oozing, rambling and self-destructive fragmentation, such music can only really be compared to such things as early Hafler Trio, or less musical Zoviet France, or a little towards that netherworld between the industrial and serious avant-garde. So, as such, the music is as much an enigmatic mystery as the minimalist disc and its strange metal case!"

from: Audion #43 (UK), Autumn 2000 - by: Alan Freeman


Play this one as loud as you can bear and a forest of these "iron rods" will grow around you, challenging you to find a way out. It's a haunting and at times somewhat disturbing enviroment that awaits your ears and your head. If I've got this right, McNulty is more a sculptor than a musician, having exhibited his home-made and self-built devices at an art gallery in New York. Other than the clue that he uses "elements from our pre-atomic days" I've no data as to what his installation- sculptured works are made of. My imagination and my ears conjure up something vast, an inescapable network of black metal bars, but in all probability the scale is more manageable. At all events, his sound world is thrillingly inhuman, only occasionally populated with minimal voice and music bursts, emanating from radiosets. The CD comes in a limited edition metal canister with a poem inside about heavy water. We haven't had a decent post-nuclear holocaust scare in a long time, but McNulty's a far way from celebrating the violence of the neutron bomb; his vision seems to focus on an age quiet some time after the decimation of the globe and only now, after 500 thousand years, are signs of life beginning to stir. Speculate away. The reality is, I suspect, that the future isn't really grim, just unknowable; unless of course you know how to read the signs, using oracles of art like this one.

Review: Sound Projector # 6, UK, August 1999, by: Ed Pinsent

As far as my knowledge goes this is McNulty's second CD, after his debut a few years ago on Isomorphic Records. His first one was a large dark ambient work. This new one is not a break with the past, although there is some noteworthy shift towards something different. The opening piece, 'N Type Region' is some strange effect going on, but with dry acoustical rumblings in the foreground - dry mud being rubbed, an iron chain? Who knows. "Powdered Iron Rod" was created with elements from our pre-atomic days" it says on the text, but it doesn't add much to understanding what these elements are. McNulty however has created a powerful album of dark elements with strange acoustical elements, that worked best for me on the last track, "Aging Of Signals", with its 25 minutes the longest piece to be found here. It evolves, takes shape and is broken down again. Evocative and haunting, a requiem for the post atomic society - a soundtrack to Armagedon.

from: "Vital Weekly", #138, 8/98, review by Frans deWaard


Ambient noise and drone pieces featuring indiscernable sound sources assembled into long drifting tracks full of abstract mystery. McNulty has released at least one other CD, 1996's "Cathepsin" as Photophobia on the (US) Isomorphic label. These pieces posess the same "industrial folk-art feel the makes Daniel Menche's work so desirable, and while the overall feel here is much more detached and less emotionally raw than Menche's work, the comparison might be the most apt. The tracks are sedate for the most part, and never venture into "noise" zones, always staying calm and floating, and while the sounds might be indistinct, (except for some odd voices here and there) abundant use of recognizable effects like delay, flanging, and phasing adds a spacey organic feel. The last track, the 25 minute "Aging of Signals" is probably the highlight here, and ebbs and flows into louder zones, very densely psychedelic at times, while the remaining impression that these sounds are being triggered automatically by devices of the composer's own invention. The portion of this track that picks up the volume reminds me of the Keiji Haino drone track (was it hurdy gurdy?) on the second "Tokyo Flashback" compilation- it sounds like a processed church organ but is probably anything but that. The first edition comes in a very nifty little hinged tin box.

from: "ANGBASE", #3, Fall 1998, review by Carlos M. Pozo


McNulty's extremely fine grained electroacoustics, rendered without computer or sampler assistance, turn a super-sensitive ear toward the secret life of Powdered Iron Rods (Plate Lunch). The breakfast of choice for real "iron men", or an opportunity to get close up and personal with "elements from our pre-atomic days?" More likely the latter, an invisibly composed symphony of soft judders and carbon-dusted quiverings which draws you into the curious lay of imaginary landscapes which McNulty coaxes from receivers and otherwise-unspecified "self-built devices." Whether stirring and quaking or wafting like thick tendrils of Martian fog, McNulty's metallic evocations establish that sound need not debase itself with shock tactics or the bombast of stirrup-searing noise to remain utterly compelling.

from: "MAGNET", November 1998, review by Gil Gershman


McNulty verwendet aus Prinzip nur Hilfsmittel aus der elektronischen Bronzezeit. Seine Klangbilder sind dadurch bewußt stumpf, abgedunkelt und tintenfischgetönt wie "Der müde Tod". Bei "Standing Wave" scheinen im azoischen Grau sich cthulhu- hafte Schatten zu regen, die in ungeahnte evolutionäre Sackgassen führen. "Aging of Signals", mit fünfundzwanzig Minuten der längste Tauchgang, öffnet am krustigen Kadaver der "Titanic" die Grabplatte in eine Vergangenheit voller weißer Knochen. Verstümmelte Funksprüche, zitternde Radiowellen geistern durch McNulty's morbide Geräuschwelt wie lallende Zombies, werden als ein immer schwächer und dumpfer werdender elektromagnetischer Notruf aus dem Äther ge- fischt. Rückkopplungsfetzen von Rafael Toral taumeln als ein gregorianisches Gurgeln lichtjahrespät und ungehört ins Leere, als verwehendes Requiem auf ein Morgen, das demnächst schon uralt sein wird.

Review: BAD ALCHEMY #33, January 1999, reviewed by: Rigobert Dittmann


Herr McNulty legt anscheinend Wert auf den Hinweis, die Aufnahmen seien ohne die Benutzung von Samplern und Computern entstanden. Nun ja. Und wenn schon. Das tut dem Genuß keinen Abbruch. Denn die Klangmalereien (hier paßt das Klischee mal wieder) entwickeln tatsächlich eine ganz eigentümliche Dynamik. Man bringt sie am ehesten mit dronig-melancholischer Elektro-Akustik in Ver- bindung. Wie Streicher im Regen, einem Requiem nicht unähnlich, oszillieren die fünf Stücke zwischen leichtem Pathos und leiser Kammermusik. Dabei bleibt die Struktur der Tracks insgesamt äußerst pointiert und wirkt niemals überbor- dend, was dafür sorgt, daß in den Zwischenräumen, dort, wo es sehr leise wird, und die Zeit nahezu zum Stillstand kommt, sich eine verhalten angespannte, schaurig-schöne Stimmung breitmachen kann.

Review: ARTEFAKT #5, January 1999, reviewed by: Annibale Piccici


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