A world of fun is to be found in Moon Glyph’s three latest releases: a new soundtrack to an old horror film, a retro score for an imaginary spy film and a single-artist mix tape. Together, the three cassettes produce a lovely sort of nostalgia; alternate histories wrapped around magnetized spools.
Tara King th. clearly loves the sixties and seventies. The band calls its sound “baroque psychedelic pop”, and the description fits. Eighteen groovy analog tracks, none longer than 3:30, fill one’s brain with images of black light lamps, paisley skirts and go-go boots. Spies pursue each other through the streets of Paris, but artfully, pausing to pose in every alleyway as they hold their thin weapons aloft, waiting to be backlit. Convertibles race through the streets, bearing models with enormous glasses, tiny pistols and killer smiles. The French language is not a barrier here (although most of the time it’s oohs and aahs). We know what the lyrics mean: beauty and danger. The cinematic period is captured through wise use of organ, flute, bass and bells; one could easily mistake Hirondelle et Beretta for a lost period piece, or an alternate soundtrack to a dropped reel. It’s that convincing.
Death & Vanilla leave their lyrics aside on the highly evocative Vampyr, but like Tara King th., the band utilizes wordless vocalizations to key effect. Wind, wordless vox and glockenspiel cast a dark shadow in the opening moments of this 56-minute tape (17 minutes shorter than the film), and soon slow to a halt to make way for the first scene change. Moog and vibraphonette lend the project a slightly worn vibe, perfect for black-and-white. Like 3epkano and My Education before them, this Swedish band recorded the cassette live and seems to have a promising future in multi-media performance. In order to tour, they’ll need to hold onto the three additional live performers, but based on this tape, it’s worth whatever it takes. One doesn’t need to watch the film simultaneously to gauge the impact of the music. The band builds tension through the addition and subtraction of instruments and the thickening and thinning of timbre. By the end of the 14th minute, we’re already scared; by the 47th, we’re terrified, as the music momentarily stops and the fog billows in.
At first, one might ask, “What is Treasure Hunt doing in this trio?” The answer is simple; Myles Byrne-Dunhill’s abstract collages are like abrupt cinema, shock art for the ears. These pieces are the aural equivalent of an experimental short film festival. Disparate sounds roll around the speakers, bursting with color and molting as they recede. While abstract, they include snippets of melody and frequent percussion, veering from military drums to bongos to programmed beats. Samples and loops abound; lacking context, the mind attempts to assign each a locale. Imagine a drugged spy or a dehydrated vampire, stumbling through a Turkish bazaar. Global Guts is an adventure gone off the rails, a hallucinogenic free-for-all in which the only constant is change. Stubbornly creative, Byrne-Dunhill refuses to allow his compositions to take on a recognizable form; the only form they offer is that imposed by the listener’s mind. In the end, the listening experience is a treasure hunt, one in which beautifully buried sounds are unearthed, examined, and discarded as new sounds are found.
A huge congratulations to Moon Glyph on this uniquely alluring trio of tapes. This sort of variety is rarely included on a single label, and this level of quality is even harder to find. (Richard Allen)