The LP Bay Of Seething (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS FTR230) is the second full-length by Moonsicles after their self-released debut Creeper in 2014. They are a quartet of American modernist rock musicians from Austin Texas led by Aaron Russell. First off I would say it’s very welcome to see a band with such a healthy gender balance. Matter of fact three members of the quartet are women, and the team of Carolyn Cunningham and Lindsey Verrill provide a solid yet elliptical rhythm section while Sheila Scoville uses her synthesiser to pose conundrums and open-ended questions in among the solid blasts of rhythmic trundling which the Moonsicles deliver. All the same, the heavy riffing of Russell does appear to be the dominant factor and tone in all six of these instrumental cuts.
Moonsicles appear to be somewhat enthralled by Earth, and have been growing and developing their own take on the slow, ponderous twangy guitar-scaping that denotes “ancient Wild West scenery” to many a suggestible listener. I like the way their instruments interlock and leave plenty of gaps for each other, and as a result Moonsicle do sometimes happen upon some interesting dynamics. But at the same time they never seem to engage gears, lift off, or otherwise rock out – each piece is so enchanted with its own sense of self-importance that it continues to churn around in a slightly turgid swirl of its own making, repeating the same unimaginative riffs ad nauseam, and the music can’t seem to sever the shackles that bind it to this quagmire. Press note by Byron Coley praises the “cinematic feel” and envisions a “sad but highly psychedelic movie” in his mind’s eye as he spins the grooves of this sludger, but I can’t share that trip.
Aaron Russell used to be in The Cherry Blossoms, who I never heard, but their general timeline (2007-2008) and the fact that they made a record with Josephine Foster seems to confirm them as a latterday acoustic folk-drone collective. Russell and Verrill also played together in The Weird Weeds, who made a number of experimental rock LPs for Autobus Records, Digitalis, Sedimental, and Sounds Are Active. Shelia Scoville has also recorded with Ichi Ni San Shi, another Austin band, who appear to play a form of sun-drenched garage rock influenced by electropop; Scoville created the sumptuous cover painting for this release. From 2nd February 2016.