Monday, February 16, 2015

MOONLETS / BEN Q. BEST



Utah's Hel Audio often works an ambiguously satanic monochrome angle visually,  but this split rarely approaches the voids of bleakness associated with metal calligraphy music or the 90s bore-core suggested by the cover's blurred photo  The music here is appropriately shadowy, but it's core temperature is warmer than first inspection lets on.  The 2 sides of synth-based atmosphere here compliment each other without detracting from each artists individual voice.

Both sides wisely keep the pace up with short tracks that unfold into natural arrangements that always fade before their themes are overstated,  The Moonlets side plays nicer than Best's does, drawing synth baths of a predominately New Age bent.   This works best when focused on "Rainbow Dome Musick" style arpeggios and washes, but falters consistently when percussion frequencies beyond the kick zone enter.  The snare sounds are the weakness, expanding an almost timeless pallete into year-2000 flavors that sound particularly dinky on 1/8th inch tape.

One gets the vibe that both the cover photo and Moonlet's electronic percussion may appear more robust in the digital realm. The muted finish of the cassette format works better on Ben Q. Best's side.  This is a more chaotic affair, with collage elements and dense texture demanding more attention than typical ambient decor.   Still, the feel is harmonious. Dramatic edits appear in a natural, aleatory manner, settling into the scene rather than disrupting it with chaos.   The cut-up nature makes the numerous short tracks feel like one long piece that usually makes linear sense. Unpredictably punctuated  by human speech or clean guitars, these fragments holistically congeal into mystery that is at times beautiful without being totally humorless.


- John Dawson

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