Music Reviews

Artist: Crystal Mooncone (@)
Title: Listening Beam Five
Format: CD
Label: Innova (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this trio comprised of Stephen Rush, Chris Peck, and Jon Moniaci. Looking at the liner notes, however, gives some sense of what we are in for, with instruments like Whoopee Whistle, Moan Recorder, Aunt Lucile’s Turkish Bells, and Goose Call to name only a few. Sounds like a good time, so let’s get into the music itself. “Fossil Tears” opens the disc and at first sounds like one of those “pure relaxation” discs that you find at Target. Thankfully, it gets a bit more interesting as we hear grinding buzzing and digital noises emerge from the vibraphone-like drone and a newfound emphasis on bass. This illustrates the general concept of the album, which is bringing together disparate elements. This approach ended up being kind of hit and miss for me. When they are on, they are solid, but some tracks just weren’t that engaging. For example, “Homage” highlights the flute, with occasional Rhodes piano, but this composition felt a bit random (but not in an interesting way). “Leeward Side” likewise brings in high-pitched warbling and droning flute, but doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. A few tracks were not really my thing, but I could appreciate the skill in their creation, as in the case of “Perth Airport,” with its chanting/singing over accordion drone and bits of percussive elements. But most of the tracks were solid and engaging. For example, the percussion, jangling metal and bells, and piano of “Imaginary Azimuths” makes for an interesting composition. “Rocky’s Landscape” begins with dark and foreboding drone, with a simple synth line running through it, eventually bringing in the flute, for a nice exercise in musical tension. The best composition on the disc was the final track, “Light Tunnel.” Cicada-like noise greets the listener, becoming increasingly intense, with rumbling bass and piano peeking through at times. As the noise settles down, we hear singing that sounds like it is taking place in a tunnel, before ending with flute and heavy drone. All of this was recorded live, and I can’t help but think that seeing this live would have been a much more engaging experience, as if something just didn’t translate over into the recordings. Still, this was an interesting disc overall, and quite accessible as far as experimental music goes. This album weighs in at around 54 minutes.

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