Sinners Music Records – 15th May 2023

On reviewing the debut EP by Fashion Tips recently, I commented that the northern noise ‘scene’ was, in effect, more of a community. I suppose this is something that is true of many more niche corners of the musical world, and it’s certainly true of the electronic scene, particularly that which has grown up around the EMOM (Electronic Music Open Mic) nights that take place around the country as a platform for all strains of all things electronic based (several of which I’ve reviewed, and a few of which I’ve performed at). These nights are a broad church, and have not only welcomed me, but opened the doors for myriad collaborations, as well as providing a safe space for testing stuff out as well as an opportunity for seasoned performers and novices alike to connect with an accommodating audience, and this release comes courtesy of Sinners Music Records, established by Ian J Cole, another face familiar to attendees of the York EMOM nights, who also streams the Audiophile radio podcast showcasing weird and wonderful exploratory electronica.

Mho – that’s ohm backwards, and pronounced ‘mo’ – is the musical vehicle of Dave Walker, who’s been a regular face at the EMOM scene, and has become established as being instantly recognisable for his stagewear, with neon-splatter t-shirt and hat. Obviously, these visual props don’t translate to the recordings, which must stand on their own merits – and they very much do.

Over the course of ten tracks, Walker showcases a broad span of styles and sounds, and the compositions are all accomplished and considered. As his bio states, he ‘began his foray into making electronic music at school when he built a Transcendent 2000 synthesiser and a ETI String Synth, as the Polymoog synth cost as much as a house back then’. He’s since switched to more contemporary kit, but his years of experience have led to a nuanced approach to musicmaking: there’s a lot of detail, but nothing’s overdone. Every drop, every time the beats bang back in, every layer, every stutter, every new sound and sample, is perfectly placed – but not in such a way that the precision leads to sterility. Walker’s tunes flow with a rare naturalness, and there are no jarring jolts or awkward lurches between segments.

Predominantly, these pieces are built around conventional piano sounds and broad strokes of synth which fill out broad spaces, and there’s a lot of analogue-style pulsations, too, cut from the cloth of Mike Oldfield and Tangerine Dream.

There’s something familiar that I just can’t quite place about the melody of ‘Nie Rozumiem’ (which will undoubtedly annoy me for days), and elsewhere, ‘Chorale’ brings ambience with low-key beats that washes along nicely, being largely undemanding but pleasant. ‘Eternal’ brings a hint of Eastern promise and a vaguely operatic vocal carried on a soft breeze of shuffling beats and rippling piano.

‘Contact’ and ‘Moon’ appear to be thematically linked, the former bursting with samples and laser-beam bleeps, and it does have quite an 80s feel to it. This, though, is true of much contemporary electronic music which isn’t overtly dance – or EDM and the encroaching Americanism would have it. The latter is a seven—minute sonic exploration that expands through time and space with crackling radio transmissions from the lunar landing of 69.

‘Take it Easy’ is pure 80s retro tootling melting into 90s euphoric trance, and while well-executed, it’s perhaps the least engaging or enticing tracks on the album, but it’s but a brief weakness in an otherwise solid album which concludes with the surprisingly light and accessible spin of ‘I Am With You’ which practically skips along.

With EMOM sets providing just ten to fifteen minutes for artists to showcase their style (these nights are absolutely bloody packed, to the point that despite being ‘open mic’, all slots are usually taken a full month in advance), it’s good to hear the full span of the elements which feature in an Mho set, and even better to hear that Mho has the material for not only a longer set, but a full album which is at once diverse and cohesive.



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