Aside from inducing a pleasant image and being a delightful pairing of words, “moss trumpet” rather well describes much of the beguiling, timeless-sounding material of this release by genredextrous Melbourne artist Francis Plagne. Haunting, droning brass finds itself accompanied by all sorts of soft, ruffled textures: field recordings, paper, drums, as well as various other instruments.
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The creative process behind Francis Pagne’s ‘Moss Trumpet’ is described in its press release as being, in part, semi-random. I think this is a response to Plagne's own musical. history. On previous releases Plagne worked with the more song-like, the more structured. On 'Moss Trumpet’ he deliberately let’s go. Plagne took recordings of paper, whistling, zither and more, and layered them on top of each other to create ‘Moss Trumpet’s whole. The result is utterly captivating.
To start with, Pagne’s choice of building blocks is wonderful. This aspect of the record was clearly not random. The snippets of water being sloshed about, of coins being shaken about, or paper being crinkled, provide ‘Moss Trumpet’ with textures that are unfamiliar and exciting. These combine with more conventional instruments, the organ’s ominous drone, the tuba’s deep hum, the shrillness of the recorder, and together make a landscape that is tangible and inviting. And despite the variety, one that coheres. There might not be a lot in common between paper and a tuba, but on here they’ll happily play together.
But it’s their placement that really make Moss Trumpet a success. That these pieces were placed semi-randomly makes them feel alive, as though they could have emerged at any moment. It also makes Pagne feel less of a composer and more of a “grouper’ in the sense Liz Harris meant. Pagne is a grouper of sounds, he lets them speak for themselves, and find for themselves where they belong.
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- Moss Trumpet by Francis Plagne
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