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 Chain, Depeche 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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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:
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