REVIEW: Black Moth Super Rainbow: The Most Wonderful Thing
Black Moth Super Rainbow: The Most Wonderful Thing [self-released, 2002] (mp3s)
Three words? fresh like leaves
A wooden shack set on the edge of a desert dune, deep underwater, sea anemones waving and the walls piled with sno-globes.
That's what this is.
No: a creaking, antique automobile, fresh green trees flickering in the windows, crackles and vibes on the radio. Your best friend is sitting in the passenger seat, and he's talking in his sleep.
Let's try again. A music box shaped like a heart - the red velvet cover is torn. Inside, whirring clock-work. Every few minutes it changes its ticktock and plays the song you heard in your dream last night.
Or maybe: Black Moth Super Rainbow plays broken folk-pop songs, the verses vanishing and reappearing over crackles and pops, the drowsy play of an organ, the disjointed strums of a guitar. The Most Wonderful Thing feels above all like an artifact, a Found Thing, nostalgia wrapped in a felt blanket. It opens with a dreamy synth melody like the beginning of a 70s wildlife documentary, then breaks into "Letter People Show", the clatter and scrape of sampled drums buffeting murmured vocals - "I hear sadness..." But this isn't the depressing sound of a boy in his bedroom with a guitar, rather the creative product of a musical, feeling adult. Like Beck, Black Moth Super Rainbow imbues his work with verve and style, he's a self-aware artist who stops just short of being arch. Though there's something decidedly indie-chic about the band-name (and it's certainly no better than Satan Stomping Caterpillars, the up-till-recently moniker), the music is stylistically unpretentious. Much like the work of Little Wings, the group's songs - ramshackle, lurching, bubbling out of sleepy organs and drum-machine clips - seem to lay everything out before the listener, honest and unconcealing. There's nothing here save what's here, but it's fresh as leaves.
Even in its lean thirty-five minutes, there's enough on The Most Wonderful Thing (thirteen tracks) to get disoriented, lost in the tangles of semitransparent visions and electronic rainfall. Songs fade together like the in-and-out between sleep. Drifting between episodes, it's difficult to get a grasp on the album's meaning, its heart. We feel the aortal rhythms, see the blood as it pumps in the veins, but know not if at its center is a muddied stone or a robin's egg. All that can be gleaned is a lush, fragrant aesthetic - a speckled sense that these songs capture something free and living, something in the shallows of the river or the rustling in the trees.