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Black Moon Mother – Illusions Under The Sun Award winner

Black Moon Mother
Illusions Under The Sun
by Santiago Puyol at 04 April 2021, 2:17 PM

The album cover for "Illusions Under The Sun", sophomore album by Nashville-based BLACK MOON MOTHER perfectly evokes the feelings that the record transpires. It is charming, haunting and deeply alluring. The imagery conveys a mysterious yet comforting vibe. Throughout seven tracks, barely going over half an hour, the band mixes elements of Shoegaze, Alternative Rock, Doom, Sludge and Psychedelic Rock, making for a tour de force that does not waste a second.

A deep, big atmospheric sound opens the record. The arrangement is sparse enough in "Lost In The Maze" to let everything breathe, making a balancing act of mixing tension and nostalgia in equal parts. Brianne O'Neill’s vocals sound just like a perfect fit for a Dream Pop band, and are undeniably the anchor to the entire record. The track is muddy and noisy at time, yet weirdly entrancing. Some guitar lines evoke the sound of a cello, an interesting choice that makes me feel it could be translated into a gorgeous unplugged version. Truly a haunting experience.

"Around The Finger" comes next, with a steady rhythm and even more trippy, shoegaze-y guitar work as well as some nasty Doom-tingled sounds. The contrast between the light verses and dark chorus makes is a more than inspired choice. Beautiful texture work, very psychedelic, with a strong Desert Rock feel. It brings MY BLOODY VALENTINE, the more Shoegaze side of BLONDE REDHEAD and even softer fares like STILL CORNERS to mind.

"High Winds" trades noisy, dense and sludgy instrumental passages with bright, ethereal vocal-driven sections for the first three minutes, before settling into a nice groove, with a triplet feel. It ends on a nasty solo and reprise of the intro melody. Paired with "Radiant Sun", it makes for the heaviest track on "Illusions Under The Sun". It is also the longest, crawling a little bit over seven minutes.

Bringing the Dream Pop influences to the forefront is the extremely atmospheric "Slow Down", filled with reverb-drenched guitars and soft vocals. It certainly evokes some of the more accessible bits from COCTEAU TWINS. Living up to its title, it allows for a moment of introspection and respite, at least for the first two thirds of its length. By the time the band comes with full in, it turns into a force of nature. A soft coda seems to symbolize the beauty in the calm after the storm.

The last three tracks bleed together forming a sort of nine-minute suite. "First Light" is a minute-long, Psychedelic Rock interlude, with treated vocals and deep ambience, while "Radiant Sun" picks up the tempo as the band rarely does throughout the rest of the record. It is powerful, even uplifting and has a bit of a 90’s Grunge feel at times, as if filtered through Post-Punk and Noise Rock. Equal parts HOLE, BLONDIE and SONIC YOUTH. It builds into a massive reprise of "First Light". "Afterglow" functions as a soft coda, bringing the album to a smooth end.

Overall, "Illusions Under The Sun" is an outstanding album, filled with strong songwriting and a masterful atmosphere built upon the tasteful production and talented musicianship and vocal prowess of this quartet. A strong contender for end of the year best of lists.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Lost In The Maze
2. Around The Finger
3. High Winds
4. Slow Down
5. First Light
6. Radiant Sun
7. Afterglow
Jeff Ehlinger – Drums
Jason Gilmore – Bass
Brianne O'Neill – Vocals
Mikey Owen – Guitar
Corey Taylor – Guitar
Record Label: Petrichor Records


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