Moon Ate The Dark: Moon Ate The Dark
Many of the solo piano-and-electronics recordings I've heard generally treat the piano as the central instrument and use electronics as so much window dressing. What separates Moon Ate the Dark, the London-based duo of Wales-born pianist Anna Rose Carter and Canadian producer Christopher Bailey, from others in the genre is its tendency to emphasize both aspects in equal measure. Given its timbral and melody-rendering qualities, the piano naturally asserts itself as a focal point during the recording, but it often functions as one textural element within a larger fabric. The explanation is simple: as Carter delicately gives voice to graceful neo-classical piano lines, acoustician Bailey uses mics, pedals, and amps to shape the resultant whole, imbuing it with reverb and boldly altering its sonorous character. Nowhere is that more apparent than during the album's penultimate number, “Messy Hearts,” where Carter's ponderous patterns grow increasingly blurry until they veritably merge with the surrounding haze.
In its presented form, the self-titled, forty-five-minute recording includes no overdubs or pre-made samples in its seven improvisations. It opens in subtly grandiose manner with the eleven-minute “Explosions in a Four Chambered Heart,” the arpeggiated trills of its insistent waltz smudged by Bailey until the clear demarcations of Carter's playing become a dream-like mass of reverberant shimmer. Admittedly, the generous length of the piece, its repeating patterns, and motorik rhythms suggest some connection to Philip Glass, but the textural definition of the Moon Ate the Dark setting puts some distance between them. It's also hard not to hear a bit of Nils Frahm at the start of “Capsules 11” when the microphone captures so audibly the touch of the pianist's fingers on the keyboard, though once again the dense blanket with which Bailey covers the sound gives the material its Moon Ate the Dark identity. “In Fiction” is by comparison an exercise in macabre gloomscaping that would sound perfectly at home on Miasmah. The disturbed ambiance—lurching rhythms, low-pitched piano notes, alien atmospherics—suggest a grisly death scene from some low-budget horror film. Considerably less bleak in tone is “She / Swimming,” which seems to capture the shimmering sparkle of sun reflecting off of the sea's surface on a summer's afternoon. One of the recording's most satisfying pleasures is that each of its seven pieces, despite being improvisations, presents a distinct sound-world, resulting in a set filled with more variety than one might have expected. The stark contrast in mood between “In Fiction” and “She / Swimming” offers perhaps the clearest evidence of this tendency.