Moon Zero: Moon Zero
Denovali Records

Tim Garratt's self-titled debut album under the Moon Zero moniker is a natural complement to the 2014 dronescaping-styled EPs Tombs and Loss, all three of them Denovali releases. It seems only right that the London-based composer would have chosen St George in the East in Shadwell, London as the recording locale for the forty-minute release (in fact, the EPs also were recorded there), less for any explicit religious themes that pervade its six tracks and more for the cavernous echo fostered by the church's large, empty spaces. Though Garratt came to the site with preliminary tape loops in hand, he was only granted a five-hour window to record the material, a seeming constraint that ended up bolstering the impression of spontaneity infusing the finished result.

No gear-related details are included on the sleeve, but apparently Garratt generates his material using synthesizers, bowed cymbals, tape loops, and myriad other instruments, and shapes it into its presented form using music software, mixing desks, and effects. Regardless of the ingredients involved, the typical Moon Zero production is best broached as a restlessly mutating and far-reaching tapestry as picking it apart lessens its impact and furthermore detracts from its magic and mystery. Defiant of categorization, it's neither electronic music in any straightforward sense of the term nor contemporary classical music, even if Garratt's creaking constructions have roots in both.

In the longest track, the eleven-minute “The Solipsist,” wailing, shoegaze-like guitars collide with pulsating bass lines in the opening minutes before both are smothered in granular noise, though not so completely that the instrument sounds are obliterated; it's hard not to think of Tim Hecker at such a moment, especially when the engulfing mass expands so volcanically. The church setting does appear to make its way into the recording during “Heritage Guilt” in the grinding church bell loops that assume a grimy, industrial quality once Garratt's done with them, and one could even argue, at the risk of over-projection, that the sunblindedness induced by “A Bevan Rotation” and “Nauru” seems in some way analogous to epiphanic experience.

It's never a good idea to draw too much of an equivalence between a recording and its packaging, but in this case the achromatic colour scheme (admittedly a staple of Denovali releases) and the blurry typographic rendering on the backside say much about the slightly out-of-focus character of Moon Zero's music. In addition, Garratt was listening to artists such as William Basinski, Cluster, and Bowie (Low, specifically) during the album's production, and it's certainly easy to draw connecting lines from Moon Zero to those kinds of touchstones.

October 2015