The Man in the Moon came down too soon

Unexpected disc of the month award (for May 2014, at any rate) goes to Pavees Dance for There’s Always The Night (NO LABEL CD). The Irish-American drummer and composer Sean Noonan has put together a dream team, featuring the guitarist Aram Bajakian, and bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma from Ornette’s Prime Time; and Malcolm Mooney, the visionary artist who (it’s superfluous to state) briefly lent his vocal skills to Can for their earliest incarnation. It’s Noonan’s project primarily, as he wrote the music, does the drumming and provides not a few of the vocal cuts, but he’s got a creative force that goes beyond being a bandleader – he thinks of himself as a “storyteller”, assembling narrative materials throughout the strange odyssey of his life, and channelling tales and yarns directly into his work. I’ll go along with that. I’d like to think of Mooney as a similar uncontainable free spirit, and while I’m basing that mostly on the well-known myths and legends about him that have accreted over time, Mooney’s lyrics (he penned words for four of the six cuts here) and above all his intense vocal performances show that his energy is undimmed and his unique shining star has not yet gone supernova. Just one listen to those vocal inflections will hold you spellbound – it’s so obviously him singing, immediately identifiable, bursting with personality…nobody else in the world has that odd phrasing, that distinctive slightly awkward manner of forming words into sung phrases, to say nothing of his wayward brain-patterns that forge these bizarre poems and lyrics into coherent sentences that, through the sheer force of his delivery, convince us that he’s right and these visions are honest, true, and something we can all live by.

Sometimes I wish Mooney had made more records with Can – in fact my personal preference ranks his work on Delay a little higher than Monster Movie, even – but strangely enough I’m also glad that he didn’t, and whatever he’s been doing for 45 years, he clearly made the right choices. This is also a more enjoyable record than any solo records I’ve heard by Damo Suzuki, though that’s probably heretical to state, partly because it’s barely identifiable as “rock music”, instead springing to life with folk and ethnic-inflected rhythms recast into open-ended contemporary forms. Credit Noonan for this; it’s part of his declared life’s mission to rework world music in these ways. It so happens he’s also created the perfect springboard for Mooney’s freewheeling voice exploits. And it’s great dance music, as the band name indicates! All the musicians here are great, though I must single out Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s bass work – fluid, melodious, funky, complex. And while I’m not fully persuaded by all the aspects of what turns out to be something of a concept album based on Noonan’s trance-like visions of the Green Man from Celtic mythology, there is some unique and enjoyable music here and it will also be a worthy if unusual addition to the collection of any Krautrock completist. Mooney did the cover painting too, and in fact there’s a series of 50 paintings which you can see if you buy the full-colour CD book package. From 15 May 2014.