Down to the junkyard goes Moody Alien. We can hear the birds chirping, the children playing, the tapping and rustling while he searches for a tune in the junk heap of sounds. Turns out there are quite a few tunes in here, or rather fragments and fractions of tunes, waiting to be stitched together. For the few and fortunate, there are also hand-made cassettes and discs, whose contents remain in place thanks to some clever use of twine: a metaphor for the release as a whole.
Moody as he may be, this alien is also kind enough to attract friends, whose troubadour accompaniments lighten the proceedings. It’s fun to play alone with wind chimes, toy pianos, rainsticks and sand, but it’s even more fun to play with other people. And while the artist plays more traditional instruments such as cello, bass and guitar, he can’t do it all at once. Shanyio sprinkles various tones across a number of tracks like sprinkles on cupcakes; other guests contribute bouzaki, trumpet, trombone and more. When they leave, they sometimes forget to bring their toys and other instruments home, which is when Moody Alien gets a little less moody and a whole lot happier. Ooo, I wonder what this does, he exclaims, exhibiting a childlike curiosity.
These are not traditional jams, but they are still jams. In fact, some many even include jam jars. The image of instruments scattered around a living room is reflected in the effective use of stereo, with specific sounds assigned to specific speakers. On “a dance for a loan”, the cello hides in the back of the mix as if shy, observing the other instruments prancing in front. “for a moment i dreamt (i was asleep and dreaming) highlights the sound of someone trying to start a fire with two sticks. Perhaps these are simply the conductor’s batons, restless and worried about the performance. The (near) title piece begins with the squeal of a rusty swing, but ends in post-rock, dulcimer and guitars intact. One track later, it’s snare and spoken word. Nothing is typical; the album is a junkyard come to life.
The album makes one think of the beauty of discarded things, which after a bit of scraping and varnish (or trumpet) may enjoy second lives even more lovely than their first. In the right hands, anything can be an instrument, and songs can be found where none have been reported to exist. Moody Alien calls these “spontaneous compositions”, a sign of hope for the frustrated composer; dig through the junk, and you may yet find gold. (Richard Allen)