From Canada, the sophomore album by Moebius Cat, first self-released and then picked up by Russian label MALS, is one of those challenging works to review. And it is so because, besides being difficult to pin-point the genre in which it can be included, and even harder to relate it to other bands for reference more than for comparison, the band presents a musicality that is pretty unique and addressing several different approaches and moods.
Despite majorly low tone and slow tempo, providing a sense of semi-darkened rock, it is quite difficult to place the band inside a sole style, as the musical aesthetics slightly vary from track to track and even inside each track. The band adopts a sonic philosophy that visits the art-rock, orchestrated pop, fusion, dark wave and even folk/world intrusions (just note the French vaudeville layer in track 2 or the Scottish lines in Time Enough for Love).
Apart from the aforementioned gamut of adopted styles, the album is also difficult to review due to its unbalanced quality, which is quite noticeable in the difference of the female and male vocalizations. The female vocals are always excellent, emotional and beautiful, while the male vocals seem sometimes out of place or simply giving a totally different direction in what relates the instrumental parts that are playing in the background.
The album starts in great fashion, with the two opening tracks (I’ve been losing & End of Time) drawing tangents to excellence, both in musical and vocal terms. But the first track with male vocals (Better days than these) brings the listener back to earth when he was already mentally flying among the clouds. Here is one of moments in the album where the music and vocals sound more unbalanced, and the uneven vocal capacities are most noticeable. Things get back to track with Time enough for Love, with its very subtle Kate Bush start and the later Scottish lines well placed within the track and providing a complete twist on the otherwise simplistic ballad.
Instrumentally, Cold Rain presents one quite good piano/violin interplay, and the male vocals are better put, constructing another dark tingled emotional song. The percussion work is also more focused here.
Farewell Guru is a calm instrumental with a semi-jazzy and semi-world music feel (Indian sparkled).
It’s Over is another good example on how Moebius Cat can construct an enjoyable song, with tight instrumental and dreamlike female vocals.
Things dramatically change in River, which to me sounds like something that David Bowie could have done for his 1.Outside experimental journey. And then there is Learning to Fly which, in many ways, with an opposite lyrical content and if sung by Nick Cave, could have found its way to Murder Ballads! (the vocal style sounds to me a collage on some tracks of that album).
Dance Goes On sometimes reminds me of a calmer Divine Comedy, with Elizebethan intrusions that are quite well imbreed in the track.
After a not that memorable track, the album closes with an all instrumental Waltz, which ends up being a quite good outro to an, like said, somehow unbalanced but still very enjoyable album.
Despite the small flaws, this is still an album that I could recommend and give a good note. It should be tried out by all those who like dark but well constructed music, that end sounding simple when it comprehends a quite deep work on architecture. This ending up being the highest achievement of the band: turn a sophisticated and complex music architecture into something slightly popish and very enjoyable. Moebius Cat will be a name to follow, undoubtedly.