Monday, August 8, 2011

Music Review: Moonface: Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped

Finally, finally, finally, Spencer Krug (of Wolf Parade fame) gives into his carnivalesque leanings with wild abandon - and mixed results - on his latest project, Moonface's Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped. As Krug himself noted in the press release for the record: "It's music played with an organ, organ beats, organ beeps and bloops, and some digital drums. Music based on layers and loops, the hypnotizing sound of a Leslie speaker, and the onslaught of melody."

He's not wrong about the organ beats or the layers: this is dense and heady stuff. With only five songs and clocking in around 37 minutes, Organ Music still has that epic grandeur fans have come to expect from Krug record - only one song runs under seven minutes! He also continues expanding his personal mythology; various references to "idiot hearts," spirits, oceans, and, umm, running(?) populate the lyrics. However, middle sections of almost every song tend to drag and it's easy to get lost in the droning organs and constant repetition.

What's interesting to note about all of Krug's work - even with Wolf Parade - is that it sounds all part of one project. Part of that reason is because each record is so different from the last and yet all of them are exactly Spencer Krug. Organ Music is no different, except that it is, perhaps, much lonelier, more raw, and certainly more jangly.

Though Organ Music isn't as outright geeky and simultaneously accessible as the last Sunset Rubdown record, Dragonslayer, nor as tasteful as Wolf Parade's Expo 86, there are moment of pure Krugian brilliance here: when his voice cracks shouting the title of "Return to the Violence of the Ocean Floor"; in the tense refrain "Won't you win the race for me?" during "Fast Paster"; the entirety of the final track "Loose Heart = Loose Plan." Yet, each of these songs contains a listlessness, and a dangerous unhinging, that will either be endearing to fans or a turn-off. But that is what makes Krug such an interesting songwriter: his fearlessnes and willingness to take chances.

THE FIRST TIME I LISTENED TO THIS RECORD: I was driving to Chicago. It was dark with no stars. The highway was illuminated by streetlights and my one working headlight. Earlier in the evening it had rained a little and the interstate still had that glossy look. You could smell the pavement. I listened intensely to the record once through and then just let it roll on, over and over again, until I reached Tin Tin Can's practice space.

-Dustin Monk

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