It was a love at first sight, the  one between shoegaze and me. Intoxicating guitar, no rush, simple yet potentially elaborate. Dark. At first exposure shoegaze can feel adventurously inaccessible, yet right next door to infectious catchiness. That dark bubble of velvet sound has been climbing to the surface of public consciousness since the late 70’s, perhaps coming closest to joining the mainstream atmosphere in its purest form through the Cocteau Twins. A wide range of bands like the Jesus and Mary ChainDepeche Mode, The Cure Lush and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have let shoegaze infuse their sound, though in some cases it was their departure from it that brought them success.

In the first decade of the 21st century shoegaze seemed to die a little. Then My Bloody Valentine’s eponymous new album came out. Now, there is Many Moons. As soon as I heard the Chicago band’s debut EP, Your Yoko, which came out earlier this year, I had found a brand new reason to use music as a means of intoxication.

My Bloody Valentine
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Love Like Mine, the first song on the Many Moons debut, made the dopamine site in my brain connected to discovering new music fire the way it has very rarely fired the last few years. This isn’t just a post punk song that happens to be catchy. It builds a plateau of feedback and wraps it in an effects-fueled atmosphere, balancing the lyrical and the etheric into an audio narcotic you can just put on repeat.

Many Moons in the studio

The title track, Your Yoko, is a sudden turn in a perfect direction, because it exposes an elusive ingredient, which when added to post-punk connects it to its raw, forgotten roots. Your Yoko reinvents the blues, a sound which emerges into the song almost incidentally, simply by virtue of its moody, slow pace, with every next chord born of heartache rather than aspiration to emulate the style of John Lennon, while managing to channel him impeccably.

Edie Rivera Gust, Many Moons

“When the group started initially it was intended to be an electronic duo with Edie on vocals and Bill our keyboardist doing all the backing material” says guitarist Alexander Bassett. “At that time they were drawing their influence from more chill wave stuff like Grimes and Washed Out. However, Edie being a big fan of Cocteau Twins and Bill liking bands like Ultravox they started looking to build an actual live band.”

Sure Know How to Love Me, a cathartically personalized Darando cover, unveils the soulful epicenter of Many Moons, Edie Rivera Gust’s voice, full enough to thrive in any musical environment but perfectly highlighted in this re-invention of the classic. Alexander Basset’s guitar phrazing is tight as a metronome, conscious of texture and sustain, and together with Bill Holland’s synthesizer spearheads the heart-aching strolls of Mike Guidry’s bass and the moody rhythms Brian Amacher’s percussion.

Alexander Bassett, guitars, Many Moons

“The band took about a year of work to develop and we had to hire and fire a couple drummers and bassists until we found the right fit,” Basset elaborates on the transition of Many Moons from a chill-wave duo. “As you know bands are a fickle endeavor and Bill and Edie had to rely on me to help them find the right people in the end. They both come from more of a nightlife background, which is how I know them, through DJing. I have sang and played guitar in bands since I was about 12 though so I had a little bit better idea of what ingredients were needed to make it work.”

Sahara, the EP’s finale, is an anthem that echoes from multiple universes. There is the restrained break-down feel at the end of a dance party in Edie Rivera Gust’s vocals, the U2-influenced pulsations in the guitar and bass, and the tribal drums that ask the ghost of Joy Division’s Atmosphere for a blessing, and get it.

In a musical landscape of playlists, an anti-album culture of festivals and jingles the return of music as a mind-altering substance that bleeds from one song to the next is overdue. The embers of sonic intoxication, having remained lit in the musical sensibilities of each member of Many Moons is a fact evident in each of Your Yoko‘s four songs, itself now a torch to be passed along the thorn battlefield of the industry as we anticipate a full album from this addictive group.

Guitarist Alexander Basset on the recording process:

“Late last year we finally had the right lineup and after only two practices with our current drummer we went into the studio to record the EP. The EP was recorded at Decade Music in just three weeks by Adam Stilson who is known here for his band New Canyons and for his production work with shoegaze band Airiel. The EP was produced by the band under my direction though.
We decided to record the EP in more of a traditional way by first having the whole band play live together in the control
Mike Guidry - bass
room and the drummer in the isolation room. We then went through and did a day or two of overdubs for each instrument depending on how good the intitial live takes were. In the end almost all the bass and drums were recorded in under four takes all on the first day.
As far as gear goes the album was recorded in protools but mixed traditionally on an analog mixing console using real vintage outboard gear and effects.
Here is a shortlist of the recording equipment used:
Neotek mixing desk
Vintage LA-3A compressors on just about everything.
Vintage Pultec Tube EQ on Bass and drums.
DOD spring reverb unit
Royer 121 Ribbon mic for guitar
Beyerdynamic ribbon mics for drum overheads.
Sennheiser 421 dynamics for close drum mics
For guitars I played a Fender Jazzmaster into a Twin Reverb, I typically play into a Deville 410 but they had the Twin on hand and it just sounded better. I usually play with a lot of stacked reverb and delay pedals live but for this I decided it would be better to rely on the Eventide and Lexicon stuff we had on hand. So in the end I only used four pedals while tracking, mostly dirt pedals.

They are in order:
Electro-Harmonix Double Muff > Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phaser> 80’s ProCo Rat> Malekko Wolftone Chaos Fuzz
For keyboards we used a mix of things. We actually had alot of really cool vintage analog synths at hand, and intended to use them, but at the end of the day we used what sounded best in the mix. So most of what you are hearing are actually Native Instruments plugins. We also employed an old 90’s JX-305 and an 80’s era Alpha Juno-1. So it wasn’t all software instruments, there was a variety.
The album was mixed outside the box on the Neotek console and brought back in as a two track through a Manley
Bill Holland - synth
Mastering EQ and a high end Lavrey AD converter. We did very little editing and focussed more on getting the right takes rather than doing a lot of work in pro-tools. We wanted to avoid the doldrums associated with too much time staring at a computer screen. There was also no use of auto-tune or any other pitch correction software. We really wanted to create something with some integrity and that really sounded like us. I feel like these days the tempatation is pretty great to just time correct and pitch correct stuff rather than play it again, and we wanted to avoid that on this record.
In terms of influences many bands all over the spectrum have been brought up during songwriting as a point of reference. Cocteau Twins, Sonic Youth, Ultravox, Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Grimes, Tame Impala, Slowdive, Velvet Underground, Coco Rosie, Pink Floyd, and Portishead being just a few.

 

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