Dec 12, 2011
Muuun is a solo project based in Portland, Oregon. The man behind this release is Kalvin. His list of past and present projects is an extensive one. Currently he resides in Krack Sabbat, Space God Ritual and his other black metal solo project, Holy Mountain. His past projects include Doomsower and Heshbeard. He is a busy guy, and somehow he managed to finish his newest release, Muuunlight.
The obvious thing to note during the first listen is the rather raw quality of the recordings. For some, this is a low point; I personally find it to my liking. Despite the fuzzed out guitars and the low fi drums, nothing is lost in the mix. Moreover, the real focus on this album is the wonderfully reverb drenched vocals the razor-sharp leads and the rich atmosphere.
The album opens with This Ocean is Forever. Its starts with an almost uncomfortably high-pitched feedback that leads us into a very strange riff that uses delay to great effect and plays throughout the remainder of the song. It is this rift that the rest of the song is built upon, and somehow, it never gets boring, in fact, it really makes this song soar. This Ocean is Forever is great opener, apart from a few vocal lines, the track is almost entirely instrumental and not only show cases Kalvin’s musical prowess, but effectively sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album.
The second song is entitled SS. Make no mistake, this a love song, and a rather bizarre one at that. It opens up with Kalvin’s airy; impossibly clean vocals and a slow bass line that slowly builds up into a crescendo of feedback and heavy guitars. This song is extremely effective in proliferation of atmosphere and conveying emotion and despite its 8 minute play time, it never feels like it drags. Having said this, I can’t help but feel the lyrics are a little adolescent, but whether this is a strength or weakness is up to the listener, after all, what love song isn’t a little adolescent?
The next song Eyes of Fire is an interesting choice. This is a full on rock track about two people being pursued by dark figure wielding a “dreaded scythe.” This song is break in atmosphere set by the first two songs, and at 2:29, it is the albums shortest composition. I feel it was a good move. Eyes of Fire moves along at a brisk pace and Kalvin’s influences of Pentagram and Thin Lizzy obviously shine through here. His lead work is the focus of the song; the twin leads seamlessly harmonize and wail throughout the length of the track, showcasing further Kalvin’s ability as a musician. This song is an odd choice, but it works when coupled with the next track.
Muuunlight and Internal Funeral are the next two tracks. I place these two together because they have two things in common, they are the best tracks on the album, and they are infused a curious and compelling mood. They are both about death, they are both depressive, but furthermore, they are beautifully composed and hold a thread of hope throughout their length. Muuunlight and Eyes of Fire work well together. Muuunlight is a return to the mood set by the first two songs but still contains the rock and roll vibe of Eyes of Fire; it’s a great transitional piece. Once again, Kalvin returns to his Thin Lizzy influence here, the lyrics are in fact, a variation of Thin Lizzy’s Dancing in the Moonlight, but whatever similarities there may have been have been, are effectively assimilated in with the rest of the song. Lyrics like “I can’t afford your love, all the cash I had, I spend on drugs,” and “we all die alone, just know I died so close to home,” really spur on the emotional impact of the song.
Internal Funeral is the next track, and the albums most depressive yet well composed. It is about a young girl who father dies and her attempts to find a connection with him. The song begins with a well-structured bass line and sparse clean leads that travels through the almost 9 minute tracks. Then the vocals drop in with the guitars; the introduction of the vocals here is incredibly effective furthering mood and the lyrics on this one may be unintentionally creepy, lyrics like “a dead father, still tries to love his daughter,” gave me the shivers. Once again, Kalvin manages to create a longer song that’s seems swifter then it should be. This is the best track on the album, defiantly recommended listening.
The final track, Keep it Locked Inside, at 11 minutes is the longest on the album and my least favorite. It is a rendition of the Heshbeard song Pequad and while I feel it is better than the Heshbeard version, it just isn’t as varied in its composition as the rest of the tracks. It is effective in its use of creating a psychedelic atmosphere and is certainly the heaviest song on the album. But somewhere in the middle, it starts to lose its momentum.
Muuunlight is a strange album; one might even call it unique. It is well composed, depressing, hopeful and beautiful. It has elements of Doom, Rock, Psychedelic and Drone. It has many strengths, and its share of weaknesses, but it never fails to evoke a rich atmosphere and stimulate emotion, and it is these qualities that truly make a musician and his music worth listening to. 8/10
Words: Brendan Butler