The Mole: As High As The Sky
Wagon Repair

On his debut full-length As High As The Sky, The Mole arranges a huge library of sounds into a highly personalized and artful variant of jubilant house music. The hour-long collection reveals a remarkably balanced sensitivity to sound design with the Montreal resident and MUTEK vet's tracks anything but minimal but far from drowning in excess either. It's beat-based club music for sure but it also holds up as satisfying headphones listening. There's no better example than an edited version of a recent Wagon Repair single, the album peak “Baby, You're the One,” which surges royally, kicked into gear with organ chords, keyboard stabs, and pinballing percussion, before The Mole cranks it to an even more vertiginous level with a steaming house groove and looped soul vocals. Listen carefully too and you'll hear the sound of distant soul vocalizing lurking behind the Luomo-esque mantra in “Like the Way.”

From one track to the next, the album grows in intensity: after “Still in My Corner,” which couples needle-point synth accents and bass flourishes with a minimal funk line that would do Michael Henderson proud, we get “Ain't the Way It's Supposed to Be” which puts an African-Latin pulse firmly in place, then adds a swooping string section, before finally settling into a steamy disco groove. Swathed in popping patterns, “Alice, You Need Him” moves things to a deeper level with a driving funk-house feel, while the surging house pulse in “Hey Girl (I Feel So Good)” is as euphoric as the sampled sounds of the audience basking in its thrusting pulse. Though a house vibe predominates, The Mole makes room for funk too in the form of the wobbly and wiry stomp “Gracias A Los Ninos” and “Knock Twice,” with its chicken-scratch funk guitar, handclaps, and “We feel” mantra. A solid collection from start to finish.

June 2008