Black Moth Super Rainbow
Two years ago I had reviewed Black Moth Super Rainbow’s previous album, Dandelion Gum, and gave it an incredible review. Pretty good for something I initially didn’t know how to describe. This time they put their sonic splendor in the hands of an outsider, and the end result becomes yet another adventure in trying to discuss something that should not be spoken of, but heartfelt, and inhaled. Deeply.
In the two years since Dandelion Gum, the various members of BMSR (who sound as if they’re from a distant planet but generally call the Pittsburgh area home) have taken on a wide variety of tasks, including an opening slot for The Flaming Lips and a solo album from main man Tobacco that was released by Anticon. The Flaming Lips camp really got into it, enough for their producer David Fridmann to be the only one chosen for the project. The big question probably is: how much did Fridmann change the group’s sound? Truth be told, their eclectic cornucopia of pop, psychedelia, progressive rock, and electronic music is very much the same. One can still imagine a man with a Moog floating with a guy and a Mellotron, and bassist Power Pill Fist getting lost in his own self-made funk, as they look for a shack in an open field as they wait for a flautist to deliver their mushrooms. This time it seems Tobacco has taken in a few editing tips from Fridmann towards helping the group perfect their craft. Songs like “Dark Bubbles,” “Iron Lemonade,” and “The Fields Are Breathing” could easily compete with anything by Weezer, Beck, and Radiohead, as they sound more like structured songs than the tie-dyed bursts of trippiness that have become one of their trademarks.
One song that may get them a bit of attention outside of their core audience is “Twin Of Myself”, which sounds like Stereo Type A-era Cibo Matto with its child-like melody and a treated voice that sounds a hundred times better than any song with Auto-Tune. The lyrics are in a way not too different from Napoleon XIV’s “Split Level Head,” Prince’s “Electric Chair” or Lateef & Lyrics Born’s “Latryx” in that they seek solace in one another, even if that other may be another version of you. It works like most outsider music does, but somehow it hits close to home. “American Face Dust” incorporates a banjo into the group’s developed sound, and if it’s a way for the group to sound rootsy, the synth and synthesized voice will take the listener back into their world.
Outside of an improvement in composition, the one major contribution from Fridmann I noticed immediately with Eating Us is the sound quality. Dandelion Gum sounded like it was brickwalled, a way of mixing and mastering that makes the loud sound louder, and a lot of times too clustered and claustrophobic. The production and mixing throughout this album makes the group sound more open and wide, “roomy” if you will, as if you’re able to hear and detect the individual elements (maybe one of them read my Dandelion Gum review). This may help bring to the surface more memorable songs than cool sounding moments, even though all the cool things Black Moth Super Rainbow are known for remain intact: great musicianship, abstract lyrics, robotic vocals that could be male or female or both, and an uncanny way to blend different styles as if this is what every other artist should be doing. The pop side continues to be pushed to the forefront, although they seem to want to soak themselves in the weird sounds of their collective imaginations, which may involve combining Kylie Minogue with Jandek and Roger Troutman. It’s uncertain what exactly is eating them, but Eating Us represents a type of musical creativity that one wishes was more dominant in today’s music marketplace.
– John Book