Three Fate Tales

by Ian Douglas-Moore

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Ian Douglas-Moore is one-half of the duo responsible for running Earwash Records, a new Berlin-based label dedicated to unusual and improvised music. Three Fate Tales, one of its two introductory releases, fits both those descriptions, with special emphasis placed on sonic space and context. “He Did Not Loiter in Stamford” sits high-pitched, subway-brake guitar tones on top of indistinct field recording hum. It’s abstract, but piercing and focused on the head by way of the cochlea. When the sine-wave-and-traffic-noise combo shuts off near the end, the music exits through the cranium and floats into the distance, where it sounds like a struggling radio without a signal. “Plain Pleasures” goes the same route, using high pitched tones, apparently made with a guitar, to tease the part of the brain that deals with perspective. What begins as one tone becomes two, then three, then a multitude. The fluttering patterns that result are varied, from wide open and wavy to tight and rhythmic, like concentrated packets of guitar skirl shot into the air. They can be measured as particles or waves, depending on the circumstances. There’s another sudden cut at the end of this one, after the introduction of some very animal or insect-like noises. This time the jump is from studio sounds to sounds from inside the studio. Mechanical clutter, vibrating strings, and snapping switches abound.
“An Indication of the Cause” starts more directly, with a chord, some feedback, and a little string rattle, stuff that sounds like a guitar in the conventional sense. Similar techniques from the previous two songs enter the fray: ebow drones, feedback, a touch of steel gristle. Something like a song forms in the piece’s middle portion. It’s hard to say which bits were performed live and what was dubbed in later, but there are some gong-like splashes and delta-wave currents running underneath the busier elements, contrasts between high and low, closely mic’d and bootlegged, mechanical action and musical outcome. The transitions are more varied here, spread out over 22 minutes. They either spring from the darkness or pivot off an ambivalent noise. Was that swarming static field recorded purposefully, or was it an accident, something caught when the tapes weren’t supposed to be rolling? Douglas-Moore’s choices get at how our ears work to distinguish between such environments, and his edits cast the music against a deeper well of scenarios, which move the album out from the studio and into a web of complicated and uncertain relations.
– Lucas Schleicher / Dusted Magazine (

On Three Fate Tales (EARWASH RECORDS 02), the guitarist Ian Douglas-Moore presents three long pieces of process-based sound art. It’s something to do with “an investigation of space”, and the long tones created here manage in some way to inscribe the dimensions of an entire environment, as if we were hearing a blueprint for an urban sprawl being created in the air around us. There’s a diagrammatic quality, as if the sounds were being used for making measurements. Some of this sound has its origins in an electric guitar, but there are other recordings and electronics, and there’s some rough processing going on to create distortion, feedback, and very high-pitched sensations, so that very little of it is recognisable as guitar music. He’s interested in at least two things; creating changes, and concealing the source material throughout the work, until such time as he’s ready to reveal it. From this strategy, it’s not clear where the sounds are happening, nor what’s causing them; and the shifts in timbre thus generated are quite astonishingly dynamic, creating very physical surprises that are somewhat disorienting. The aural equivalent of pulling the rug out from under us.
This does feel like very radical process-based work, and I’m very much in favour of it. I’m reminded for some reason of structural-materialist film from the 1970s, where a film-maker might create a new film from refilming an old one, or treating a length of unexposed stock in the optical printer. The work might then be structured to begin with the processed sections, so that original source material would only be revealed much later on. I don’t have a specific film in mind, but that process is recognisable. This is a very good piece of noise, not empty drone for its own sake and certainly free from the tedium of tasteful ambient droning.
— Ed Pinsent / The Sound Projector (

So wie einem da der Wind in die Ohren pfeift, sticht und trillert, kommt man nicht gleich drauf, dass Three Fate Tale (ewr 02, CD-R) die Musik eines Gitarristen ist. Allerdings setzt IAN DOUGLAS-MOORE bei seinem Solo offenbar auch Electronics so ein, dass man den Titel 'He Did Not Loiter In Stamford' mit Maßnahmen in Verbindung bringt, Herumlungernde vor Supermärkten akustisch zu vertreiben. Und so, dass ich Pain Pleasures lese, wo es 'Plain Pleasures' heißt. Wenn das stechende Ohrenbohren nach 8 Min. instabiler und rechtslastig wird, ist das zu früh gefreut, i.d.-m. experimentiert weiter mit Sinus- und ähnlich giftigen Schallwellen als einer Art Electronic pest control. Als zweibeiniger Versuchs-Schädling gebe ich gerne zu Protokoll, dass einiges dafür spricht, so beschallte Räume zu meiden. Für 'An Indication Of The Cause' kommt dann doch auch die Gitarre ins Spiel, mit Feedbackvibrato, das aber ebenfalls von Störgeräusch angekratzt wird und zudem selber etwas Bohrendes an sich hat. Sonores Glissandieren, Dröhnen und surrendes Vibrato machen das Ganze aber etwas heimlicher. Und nicht nur das, i.d.-m. beginnt mehrschichtig den Raum zu modulieren, sogar mit dem einen oder anderen Akkord. Aber dann wieder Störung, Gitarrenkrümel, kleine Plinkplonkgriffe, um Feedback hervor zu kitzeln. Zuletzt dann eine Zitterwelle, helldunkel changierend. Das erinnerst fast ein weing an Zeiten, in denen man erst mit Abschreckungstricks den Raum spitzelsicher zu machen versuchte, bevor das Eigentliche begann.

— Rigobert Dittmann / Bad Alchemy 87

On his solo release 'Three Fate Tales' Ian Douglas-Moore further expands on the notion of micro-tonality by bringing in field recordings and acoustic objects; the space in which the music is created starts to play an important role. Electronic sounds, feedback and/or sine waves move through space and start to change; maybe the position of the recorder changes? In 'He Did Not Loiter In Stamford' it starts out with virtually inaudible electronic sounds and then slowly grows and street sounds are added - someone opened a window perhaps? This is quite an interesting piece of drone music. 'Plain Pleasures' follows a similar course, but seems to be a bit more austere in approach, i.e. there is less sounds and more poignant. Here too at one point more acoustic sound in the space. The longest piece is the third one, 'An Indication Of The Cause', which is the first one in which the guitar sounds more clearly, resonating, vibrating and moving in a steady, sustaining way, and ultimately combining interests from the previous two pieces into a more complex myriad of sounds, although perhaps a bit long, I would think. Towards the end it slips a bit, and the improvised element makes that the flow is interrupted. But throughout this was a great piece too and all in all an excellent release of radical improvisation.

— Frans de Waard / Vital Weekly (


released August 1, 2015

Recorded and mixed by Ian
Mastered by Kris Limbach
Design by Lee Evans

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Earwash Records Berlin, Germany

label for experimental / improvised music run by Berlin-based musicians Paul Roth and Ian Douglas-Moore

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