Emerging in the opening stretch of the 21st century, the Project Mooncircle label is already 15 years and over 150 releases old. The label is celebrating in a big way, offering fans a party in a box. The deluxe package includes five pieces of vinyl, two CDs, a t-shirt and a digital copy of the label’s documentary. Comic book aficionados will quickly recognize the work of Dave McKean on the cover; what’s not immediately apparent is that this is also a package of love, as the cover image holds the face of a founding member, sadly deceased.
The album passes through various electronic styles along its way, from light ambient to dark synth; a few vocal tracks are included, but for the most part, this is an instrumental affair. The nicest surprise is the return of a genre we thought had been lost to the sands of time. A majority of the 39 tracks reference trip-hop in one way or another, whether through languid beats or a peaceful vibe. To listen is to be pulled back in time ~ a natural effect due to the nostalgic theme ~ while swimming in the fresh and new.
As three hours of music are involved, some tracks are bound to leap out. While different listeners will have their own favorites, a select few warrant an extra mention here. KRTS’ “Odd Fish” is exactly that, a welcome blend of different percussions that clicks and clacks its way to a rhythmic end. Bass, brass and flowing water make a sweet team on Sina.’s slow-grooving “Our Sweet Entropy,” the combination repeated on Long Arm’s “Anna.” No regular reader of our site will be surprised to hear that Jilk’s “All Dust Form” is one of the highlights; the artist continues to go from strength to strength with a glitchy, inviting, semi-vocal offering. Swift and slow tempos collide on the music box-inflected “Helical Scan” from Kidkanevil, who also teams with Daisuke Tanabe for the dramatic, soundtrack-like “Harmonics (Stompy’s Playground Live Version)”. Late in the set, Deceptikon’s “From Time” offers gentle chimes and a peaceful pulse, perfect for the new year.
Of special notice is the mastering, which is especially warm and crisp, unifying the set as a whole. Everything goes right on this release, a hopeful harbinger of things to come. Happy Anniversary, Project Mooncircle, wishing you many more! (Richard Allen)