Tales of the Mad Moon
Lengthy compilation of older compositions offers an interesting degree of coherence in spite of the foregrounding of structurally disconnected sound tapestry. There is a clear Lustmordian influence at play here, as deep, swelling, tectonically slow waves of noise form the backdrop for the majority of these pieces, trading on the empty space between each tonal build as much as the energy generated from micro-crescendos. Atop this skeletal framework sits the ghostly visage of harmonic material, sometimes trading off simple three note refrains set to tempos residing at the edge of the perceptual present. A combination of organs, synthetic choral tones, and reverb drenched church bells make up the body of the timbral armoury, offering a welcome and austere contrast to dungeon synth’s sporadic overreliance on crowded string patches.
Structurally, although the philosophy is explicitly (and successfully) minimalist, there is a stark contrast between those tracks that are simple exercises in dynamic as much as textural range manipulation, and those that have a more pronounced melodic story to tell. For instance ‘Moonchamber’ is a fully formed if basic piece of “music”, with a simple pulsing sequence functioning as the backbone, as half formed refrains are deployed from above to achieve maximum impact via a strict commitment to a limited musical grammar.
This is followed by ‘Finsterstromung’, which is a textbook example of the opposing impetus on this release. More of a series of hints than a recognisable piece of music, it trades on eerie and distant choral notes, opening up cavernously empty spaces articulated more through implication than explicit signposting. This, again, is a strikingly well executed application of the Lustmordian philosophy of emptiness.
The music functions not as an absorbing sound world, whereby all the information is provided and clearly spelled out for the listener. We are instead furnished with a series of hints and inuendoes by which to map out a sonic path through the music, requiring us to introduce our own opinions and musical intuition to fill the gaps that open before within the information pouring from speakers themselves.
Tracks pivot between these two subtly distinct impulses. Sometimes with little more than a timpani drum and a simple descending three note pattern, other times offering more familiar and lyrical musical pathways that look positively rife with activity given their ensconcement in this sparsest of contexts. But underlying it all is this boundless sense of dark space, articulated via a throbbingly persistent stream of low synth tones that swell and fall back into silence with reliable consistency. This allows ‘Tales of the Mad Moon’ to command the atmosphere and attention within any room despite the music’s strikingly limited ontology. The quiet voice wins out. A refreshing confidence in the power of silence and empty spaces between notes to produce just as much artistic impact as the notes themselves as they gradually ooze out between the chasmic pauses in sonic information.