Review Summary: A charming, intellectual miasma of folk, drone and post-rock.
It's the middle of the night. You sit in isolation, back-lit by bonfires. The shadows of men and women sweep round you: human bodies caught up in the dance, animal masks locked in snarls. It's cold in the centre of this bird's eye cartwheel, though the sweat glistening on your back suggests differently. The drum grows faster, the chants louder and you close your eyes, surrendering yourself to this blissful frenzy.
Sometimes things can't be explained without the use of extended metaphors, and this is one such occasion. The Dance of the Moon and the Sun
begs no comparison: there isn't an album out there which evokes the same response or even sounds remotely similar to this delicate blend of folk, drone and post-rock. So, alas, the metaphor was necessary to provide just a little bit of context before we dive in to any specifics. Because The Dance of the Moon and the Sun
exudes this animistic, tribal spirituality; appealing to our deepest and most powerful emotions. Shackled by the boundaries of language, how can I hope to share this with description alone?
The distinguishing feature, or at least the most immediately noticeable facet of this album, is found in the juxtaposition between a select few acoustic songs and the often more oppressive, more substantial drone ambiance. The atmosphere will shift from wistful introversion ("You'll never come back. Yes, I wish you'll never come back")
to an intimidating tone of dark hostility in a heartbeat. Perhaps the ability to shift so fluidly through such separate tones lies in the execution. The Dance of the Moon and the Sun
remains ever raw, as there is little in the way of complexity beyond the stylistic texturing and minimalist abstract layering. But no, this hypothesis lacks the romanticism deserving of the album. The Dance of the Moon and the Sun
draws out our most primitive emotions: fear, happiness... bliss, even. It's an emotional palette requiring no effort to move towards, since it's one we're built to fit. Becoming enveloped by it is easy, maybe even inevitable. Like a tribal ritual with you at the centre: hypnotic.
Sinister too, though. The lyrics, in the few times Mehdi raises his soft, almost feminine voice, revolve around death and desertion. The ambient elements, too, often stray far from conventional musical beauty (bar some very memorable segments of Winsconsin
). Instead they focus on creating a dark, haunting atmosphere. Deep, rumbling backdrops echo behind cello lines, screeches and selective percussion. Dynamic in the context of drone, true, but retaining the genre's subtle, understated nature.
All in all, The Dance of the Moon and the Sun
is a perfect display of two creative minds at work. Comparable to nothing that precedes it, what's lost in the sometimes hazy production is made up for in the ambition uniqueness and, ultimately, the way the album can burrow its way inside your head. It's an intellectual miasma borrowing from the dark intrigue of drone, charm of folk and the asymmetry of post-rock. Inevitably forgotten by most, but cherished by those with the good fortune to listen to it.