You can’t really go wrong with this. A 22-track selection of (almost) all your no-audience underground favourites, recorded on the night of the supermoon in November 2016 and released as a pay-what-you-want download from Ireland’s excellent Sofia Records. The album actually came out a week or so ago (mid-January 2019) to coincide with the titular lunar eclipse, so as ever, my timing is a little off. Never mind – ‘Songs of the Supermoon’ makes for fantastic listening whenever you get your ears around it (UPDATE: there will be supermoons in February and March 2019!)
With ‘Songs of the Supermoon’ offering so much good stuff, it is a little churlish to select highlights. But, at 22 tracks, summing up the sheer variety of goodies would be darned silly too. So, here are some suggestions for your listening pleasure…
How about a safe pair of hands to kick things off? Neil Campbell rarely puts a foot wrong and the tremelo-inflected slither of ‘Maximum Cloud’ is suitably cosmic here. Following right after, AMOON’s husky frippertronics are a meditative gem, with a chunky low-end setting the scene for suitably eerie guitar hoots and ghostly devotional electronics.
You don’t need to binge watch the Twilight films to dig the deep cultural connection moons and wolves, and, true enough, there’s a good dose of lupine howling right here. Ingrid Plum sets her mighty vocal chords to work in ‘Howl Part 2’, yowling along to field recordings of wolves in an uncompromising and affecting fashion. (You might also want to check out Plum’s recently-released ‘Howl’ EP, which serves up more of this type of fabulousness.)
A slightly less reverent take on human-animal relations is provided by The Cooper Family Howlers, an outfit I suspect is comprised of Yorkshire drone-psych-folk-improv maven Sophie Cooper and her doggo Dana. Following her (unsuccessful) attempts to coax suitable yowls from Dana, Cooper lays down a hefty trombone and xylophone groove that balances classic minimalist gestures with lugubrious, echoey riffs.
I have no idea who Charo Skaro is, but I like their name (echoes of Dr Who perhaps) and the thick impasto of organ and guitar that they cook up. The slow phase of that bass drone gets me right in the lobes, while a twisty line of fuzz sneaks through the cracks like a woodworm nibbling a pew.
There are some rather lovely psych-folkish excursions from Jake Blanchard and Ar Antiphon, but the gleaming prickles of ‘Super Moon Set Layered On’ by Uke of Corners Spaces is my current favourite. Brittle, multi-tracked guitar lines spiral in repeating motifs, coiling mantras whose style recalls Bert Jansch and John Renbourne at their most esoteric.
Finally, my improv-nodes are totally blasted by the intervention of Hull’s YOL. His ‘Magic Sigils’ is a typically scorched-earth intervention, matching the scratches and rattles of found sounds with barked syllables that aren’t so much spoken as coughed up from the depths of charred lungs. “LEFT OUTSIDE THE SNOOKER CLUB… MAGIC SIGILS… TO SUMMON THE POLICE HELICOPTER… WHEN IT LANDS, KEY IT” , he rants. Fly me to the moon? No chance, mate.