Music for the Moon and the Trees is a warm album that honors its title. Morgan Szymanski‘s guitar is made from an Italian red spruce selected by Luciano Lovadina under a full moon; the album was conceived in Tommy Perman‘s family woodland cottage; fallen twigs and branches make guest appearances before deteriorating into mulch. Links to Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” are sprinkled across the recording. Bats, birds and bees fly across the notes, while trees are echoed into instruments.
The two artists are lifelong friends, finding time to record together just before the pandemic, releasing the album at the tail end, while Perman found solace in the production during the heart of the crisis. As the artists are normally separated by a great expanse of water, Perman in Scotland and Szymanski in Mexico, the process of recording – then the memory of the recording – drew them closer together. Recording between the full moon and the summer solstice, the pair were exquisitely aware of the lunar cycle, which inspired musing on the cycles of nature and the passage of time.
“Fibonacci Dusk” includes a hand pan timbre, while the percussive “Pipistrellus” takes on an electronic tinge. The musical arc bends from the quiet foliage at dusk into the heart of the night forest, as the creatures come out to frolic. “Dance of the Trees” is a stop-and-start celebration of cooling wind and waving branches. Much of the music is improvised, but little of it seems so; instead, the artists allow their surroundings to dictate their melodies and rhythms.
The reflection returns in “Moonset,” the red spruce again taking center stage. When the moon is full, it sets at dawn, ceding space to another awakening of woodland residents. Forest birds are active in “Mémento (Homage to Lorca),” as are the words of the poet, roughly translated “When I die, bury me with my guitar under the sand.” For a time, the moon sees the trees, and the trees see the moon; friends share music, drinks and time. Then a bittersweet separation, the moon rotating, the friends boarding separate planes, in hopes of reuniting some day. Under a new moon, the celestial body disappears from sight, but not from mind. (Richard Allen)