Black Moth Super Rainbow Dandelion Gum

[Graveface; 2007]

Styles: electronic psych rock, psych experiments, psych folk, I need a shrink
Others: fairy tales

Black Moth Super Rainbow are a perplexing sort of folk. Here with Dandelion Gum, their third album, they’ve crafted a vague concept quilted around the fairy tales of our youth. And being at all familiar with the true fairy tales of the un-Disney-fied tradition, one knows this should most likely be an album full of the sounds of children being devoured. But BMSR take a different path to Grandma’s: The album is downright cheery. Every track is summer-soaked with not a rain cloud in sight. And one could have never imagined that being abandoned in the woods would have been such a pleasant experience. Band members Tobacco, Power Pill Fist, Father Hummingbird, The Seven Fields of Aphelion, and Iffernaut (it was necessary to list them all) pepper their interpretations of these tales with Rhodes, monosynths, and Atari sounds, all the while striving to bring their yarns down to Earth.

“Forever Heavy” is a perfect specimen of these trials. It’s down-tempo, repetitive, calming, and spooky all at once. Slow and deliberately paced synth whirls fill up most of the sound, accompanied by vocodered vocals that continue to lead you on this trip through the candy cane-flavored gates. “Lollipopsichord” sounds just like what it says. The band have fashioned together a brand new, tasty instrument out of their imaginations, and it sounds sort of like a lick-able power tool. “Sun Lips” is gorgeous and trippy. Its emotionless refrain of “We wait/in summertime/ We miss you/ in summertime” couldn’t possibly achieve a more eerie sentiment. “Drippy Eye” does IDM as well as Boards Of Canada or Caribou, filtered through an even earthier psychotropic lens. It’s almost as if the whole album is about drugs. But by drugs I don’t mean conventional drugs, I mean drugs as in how sugar has an adverse effect on young children and you should never feed them candy or else this album happens inside their minds.

The vocoder takes away from the songs sometimes, such as on “When The Sun Grows On Your Tongue” and “Lost, Picking Flowers In The Woods.” There the effect is too prominent, and despite the songs themselves being strong, they have trouble standing up on their own with the vocoder cutting in front of them in the lunch line. However, the stilted, robotic sound the device derives from the vocals is so out of place on such an earthly album that occasionally the tactic works. Being lulled into a peace and becoming one with the trees and woodland creatures only to have a giant, but gentle, robot start carefully ripping the forest around you to shreds and building you a nice nest to lay in is one way to imagine the effect. At other times, when it’s not working in that subtle way it should be to comfortably creep you out, the vocoder is plain annoying.

My copy of Dandelion Gum has a splatter of yellow paint on the flip side of the disc, making the last two tracks unreadable. And that’s probably appropriate. Black Moth Super Rainbow create a sense of calculated haphazardness in their songs. It’s mystic and undeniably inorganic, often bordering on beautiful. Taking nearly three years to complete the album, one could wrongly assume the songs fall under a label of “experimental” and might be quick to shelve them there for no further inspection. And while the experimental tag does hold up under a certain level, the music is easy to jump in to and goes even easier down the hatch. Their breed of psych-rock could readily be tied down to the earth and its rotations, but it becomes clearer as the album progresses that the band is outside the gravitational pull of the world, following it in tandem a couple decades behind schedule. I’m not saying they gather in the forest picking flowers; I’m saying they hover above the forest dirt roads in their ovular spacecraft picking up rednecks. They’re extraterrestrials who grew up on Mother Goose and the Brothers Grimm, and they wonder if maybe you’d feel more comfortable sleeping in the space oven after you’ve finished your candy-coated astronaut dinner.

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