Not all bands are created equal and not all bands are actually bands. Many times bands consist of one or two guys who can spearhead a project but recruit other musicians to come in and play background instruments. In these instances one tends to refer to them as projects. So we’ll refer to Crystal Moth as the project of producer and percussionist Patrick Dawes and improvising drummer Paul May, and the occasional contributing musician. Dawes’ most notable credits include his work with the English electronic duo Groove Armada and he has also worked alongside May in the electric-eclectic project Woven Entity.
For their self-titled debut Crystal Moth, Crystal Moth assembled a small orchestra of longtime friends and collaborators who contributed to the mosaic-like albums originality and color. Crystal Moth opens with plucky and ethereal “Still Reward.” It’s a collage of snail-paced, finger picked acoustic guitar and gentle, art film spoken vocals, infused with haunting percussion and soft swells of ambience.
Then comes the darker, somber and doldrumatic orchestration of “Images of Snow.” The song tumbles slowly along opening over five minutes like time lapse photography with haunting and riveting orchestration. This sets up the percussive and mild electronic soundscapes of the instrumental “Paul 3.” This flows into the equally evocative “Special Groove” which evokes reminiscences of Miles Davis’s later experimental works like Bitches Brew and Pangea.
On “Passed the Fountain” Crystal Moth gets back to a more lightweight and modern day experimentation that finds Dawes and Mays showing off their percussive and refined drum chops which continues on “Strike this Day” which, with its haunting piano and string quartet and whispered lyrics, reminded me of the soft soundscapes produced by Rachel’s as did the equally brilliant orchestration on the follow-up “Slowly.”
Crystal Moth is a record that very much moves in stages, much like its names suggest. The listener, if careful can hear it move through its various stages of development, each of them natural and unique. Crystal Moth is the kind of record that rewards the careful and patient listener time and again.
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