This is the third record from ex GBV man, Todd Tobias and Italian chanteuse Pat Moonchy, and it’s possibly their best.
Moonchy & Tobias III is certainly the perfect soundtrack to these discombobulating times. Soundtracking the vacuum with their elegant psychodramas, things start off as they mean to go on with the mini opera of ‘Dubium’; Pat Moonchy’s suggestive vocal swoops (doubtless played for maximum effect) give extra tension to the strange rhythmic pattern that both backdrops and propels the piece.
Second track ‘Petali Caduti’ is also driven in a notable way, this time by a glorious stomping beat – is a voyage through a strange landscape. The audio version of a Dora Carrington painting? It could well be so. Third track ‘Sericum’ (Silk) is the poppiest and most fully developed of the tracks, part 80s Goth pop, part modern classical tidbit. You get the feeling that the more standard structure of ‘Sericum’ is a gateway moment, allowing the LP to explore other pastures later on. It’s not a reversion to a “state of normal” though, far from it. We have some lyrics in the booklet, as proof: “the silk of affluence/bites the young lovers”…
By now you should get the picture. Mystery and mood are our guides. Many of the tracks on Moonchy & Tobias III are presented mythically, as if coloured slides in a magic lantern. Also, the subtle rhythms and changes of tempo in each piece – and the ever-changing vocal conceits adopted by Moonchy – give the listening experience a peculiarly weightless quality. Whilst listening to tracks like the ‘Frangit’, which like to play compressed sounds off against soaring vocals, it’s like being submerged in the rhythms of the tide. This idea of listening to the sound of an ever-evolving dream, or midnight swim is accentuated by the cover; the moon appearing through clouds. Consequently, the listener could maybe feel unable, or unwilling, to escape this huge, dark, mysterious netherworld that slowly builds up around them. Piranesian, even? Maybe.
But don’t think Moonchy & Tobias III is an exercise in making a sugar-coated dystopia. The record is an arresting listen and an experience to be grabbed and shaped by the listener. There are some killer cuts to hold on to in this shadowland. ‘Petali Caduti’ is one, and ‘Limbi’ is definitely another; a gloriously vampish track given form by the rich operatic vocals, especially those jumps up and down the scale. Once or twice things become like Cocteau Twins’ glorious sleepathon Victorialand, especially ‘Dies Festus’, ‘Dum’ and ‘Unum’ which are all gently rocked – if not tucked up in bed – by slow, softly-pressed piano passages.
I think they should give David Lynch a ring without delay.