The elevator goes up, the doors slide open and empty you into The Mall. Your footsteps click across the freshly buffed floors, mingling with a bustle of shoppers, voices all around -- hurrying, questioning, urging. Now at the fountain, you're saturated by a field of noise, white and cold like a mall skylight. And then -- rhythm. The Mall is merging: those footsteps, those voices, clothes flipping on the rack, money dumping palm-to-palm -- all is cohering, bounding forward with rhythm.
Originally commissioned as a live performance, and now available as a formal studio album, The Mall marks Vancouver electro-acoustic artist Secret Mommy's first release since 2008's Plays. Continuing the field-recording principle of the Wisdom EP, which pulled music from the pulling of the artist's wisdom teeth, The Mall is an intensive remix, music sublimated from the raw material of the living world. But in this case, the world under Secret Mommy's microscope isn't the dentist's chair, it's a sprawling, populous space: our culture's great cathedral, the mall.
One immediately thinks of the scalpel-cut collages of Matmos, the aleatoric mosaics of The Books, the architectural structures of Brian Eno -- but Secret Mommy is a startling original. Whereas Eno's ambience took the top-down approach, laying compositions overtop a space to facilitate a mood, Secret Mommy discovers the mall from the ground-up. The mall is not a space to be reflected, it's a wealth of experience to be chopped, trampled, interpreted. The Bay, the food court, the Body Shop -- all are probed, unfolded, presented as a revelation. With consummate playfulness and subtlety, Secret Mommy gives us the mall we've always known but never felt before.