Brother Sun, Sister Moon: s/t
Brother Sun, Sister Moon is a new collaborative project from the prolific New Zealand artist Alicia Merz, this one involving UK-based musician/producer Gareth Munday (aka Roof Light). Merz not only issues music under her Birds Of Passage alias (Winter Lady) but collaborates with others, too, an example being the recent outings Dear and Unfamiliar with Leonardo Rosado and a twelve-inch vinyl split-and-collaboration effort with I've Lost (real name Bobby Jones). Brother Sun, Sister Moon is clearly the trippiest outing of those with which Merz has involved herself and thus expands upon the sound-world previously carved out.
“Ghosts of Barry Mill” is haunting vocal music of the kind we've come to expect from Merz, if somewhat more folk-based than some of her more ethereal constructions. Graceful and delicate, “A Year's Worth of Leaves in Your Heart” follows a melodic progression that evokes the equally lovely lullaby “All Through the Night,” and, not surprisingly, the album's material is at its most affecting during entrancing songs such as “Storms Break the Day” and “South Downs by Morning,” which adopt a simpler and more straightforward approach and, most importantly, allow Merz ample room to work her vocal magic.
Elsewhere, a fecundity of imagination and sonic richness comes to the fore, such as during “Cope” when sleigh bells ring alongside trippy psych-folk. Pushing things further, the collage-styled title track veers into Prefuse 73 and Flying Lotus territory when it scatters a smattering of technicolour vignettes across a head-nodding base. “One Throws and One Pulls” also takes a page out of The Caretaker's handbook in exhuming a crackly ballroom sample before shifting the focus to another tripped-out beat collage. Synthesizer sounds from some imaginary unreleased Boards of Canada session filter into the field recordings-heavy “From Grain To Flour” to lend its nature sounds a futuristic quality.
In liberally twisting an established soundworld into bold and even psychedelic new shape, Merz and Munday's project is reminiscent of what happened when Broadcast collaborated with The Focus Group on 2009's spaced-out Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age. Admittedly, some measure of cohesiveness is sacrificed when a collection extends itself stylistically as much as does Brother Sun, Sister Moon; on the upside, the listener's attention never wanders when it's impossible to predict where the album will go next.