Brujas del Sol – Moonliner (Devouter Records, 15 April 2013)
Distraction. Diversion. An escape. A feeling of catharsis. These are things we all need from time to time, regardless of whether we find the relief through alcohol or drugs or bath products. For me personally, and I suspect for a lot of you out there, I find the best way to shut out the rest of the world and temporarily forget about my issues is to put on a pair of headphones and get swept away by some music.
I started putting together this article about Columbus, Ohio’s Brujas del Sol and their album Moonliner last week, and have been trying to work on it for several days, but… well, shit happens. Work is extra busy sometimes, government agencies do everything they can to avoid helping you when you call them about problems you’re having (especially when those problems are their fault), you know. That old chestnut. But naturally, you haven’t come here to read about any of that, so I’ll just skip ahead to the good part. An excellent album (definitely one of my favorites from last year) that truly lends itself to getting lost in…
The songs that comprise Moonliner — six of them, averaging about eight minutes apiece, have apparently been very fluid, dynamic compositions in arriving at their current form. The press release which accompanied the album tells me that the band has recorded numerous improvised sessions over several months, later picking out the best bits to develop further into actual songs. Then, they released all of them (two at a time) as free downloads on their Bandcamp page before re-recording some parts (including the addition of a keyboardist), remixing and remastering to assemble a final version of the whole thing, which was then released by the always-amazing Devouter Records.
The eerie vibe and sound effects (particularly the occasional echoey blip that’s reminiscent of either a record scratch or a guitar fret noise) that open the first song “Ships in the Distance” bring to mind a lot of Bauhaus material (specifically, some of the atmosphere and weird sounds that are present in songs like “Spy in the Cab” and “Stigmata Martyr”). This comparison is heightened when the guitar enters, as the reverby tone is nearly a dead ringer for Daniel Ash‘s. This becomes a common theme throughout the album — ambience and guitars that sound a lot like Bauhaus (or sometimes, like some of the b-sides from Siouxsie and the Banshees‘ Tinderbox), so I won’t bother mentioning it again.
Bass and drums combine to underscore most of these songs with a lively, driving beat — one that often gives the listener a sense of forward motion, mesmerizing and transportive much in the way that Melting Euphoria‘s music so often was (only here we have slightly more vocals, and slightly less theremin). Adding to the transcendant atmosphere and aiding in the material’s ability to carry the listener away, the middle two tracks (“Conquistadors” and “Noon on the Moon”) feature some exotic scales and melodies, as well as each including a sitar-like drone in the background.
The keyboards take various forms, from synth-sax lines to different types of organs to odd textures and sounds, all of which serve to enhance the dreamy, spacey atmosphere. Where vocals are present (not all songs have them, and even those that do are still filled with lengthy instrumental passages), they too exhibit a dreamlike, faraway quality. Oh yeah — and while we’re talking about being reminded of exotic getaways through music, the penultimate track “Baba Yaga” (despite its Eastern European name) feels much more like a surf-rock style; much more so than one might expect, especially compared with a different song on the album that actually has “surf” in its title (“Satanic Surf Girls Love to Dance”).
By the time the peaceful closing track “Castles Upon Golden Gate” (not to be outdone by its predecessor in terms of titles that sound like they came from “Pictures at an Exhibition”) rolls around, this excursion that has taken us through the territories of darkwave, krautrock, acid rock, and space rock, has now brought a feeling of serenity and resolve; whatever it was that had been bothering us has now been left behind as we float off in the soft, billowy clouds in the distance.
The physical album is currently sold out at the Devouter webstore, but you can still listen or download it from Bandcamp…
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