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Moon Letters

Until They Feel the Sun

Review by Gary Hill
Those looking for modern prog that calls to mind the classic era of the genre should really look to this album and band. Sure, there are some moments that get a bit crunchy, even leaning toward metal, but this really draws more on the classic progressive rock of the 1970s than it does anything else. While there are other elements that rise up from time to time, and this has a sound all its own, I’m often reminded of the classic era of Nektar on this. I’d say that there is a really good chance this well make my “best of 2019” list. It really is that good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Skara Brae
They waste no time. Powerhouse prog rock sounds herald the start of the set. It works through from there by building on the themes. They shift it toward some harder rocking stuff for a time, before dropping back to mellower stuff to end.
On the Shoreline
Coming in mellower, with a bit of a folk prog vibe, this cut becomes a ballad as the vocals enter. There are definite elements of psychedelia in the mix on this earlier, mellower movement. It gets powered up a bit on the chorus, but still lands in the balladic zone. There are hints of things like The Beatles, but thrown the lens of progressive rock. There is some powerhouse guitar soloing further down the road as this has worked up to more hard rocking stuff. The final sections of this really make me think of classic Nektar to a large degree.
What is Your Country
The sounds of the sea are heard at the beginning of this. Vocals rise up from there. It is a multi-layered vocal arrangement with no instrumentation at the start of the piece. In fact, while there are some minor bits of instrumentation at times, overall the entire piece is acapella.
Beware the Finman
The opening on this has some definite metallic crunch in a killer introduction. The piece resolves to more of a melodic prog sound, but it still has some of that metal element at play, too. There are some of those Beatles-like elements in minor places of the arrangement. The cut really rocks like crazy, though. This number is one of the more dynamic pieces here. It has some sections that land closer to heavy metal. Other things are far more symphonic. There are parts that combine the two. I dig the tasty guitar solo on the song.
Those Dark Eyes
Cool trippy jamming is at the core, while whispers are heard in the arrangement. This has some particularly dramatic moments and really works so well. There is a great groove to it. Around the two-and-a-half minute mark it shifts out to harder rocking stuff and really drives. There are some vocals in that section. It has an AOR prog meets metallic vibe to it. That works through, and they drop it to mellower textures to continue. The vocals return to bring a balladic approach to the cut. This doesn’t stay in any one place too long, though. It works through all kinds of changes.
Sea Battle
Some killer edgy prog starts this and works through a number of unique changes. This is arguably the most dynamic cut here. It has so many different movements and textures. It’s another one that makes me think of Nektar in some ways. It’s a real powerhouse cut. It gets metallic at times, too. It’s just a killer modern prog song with plenty of old-school elements built into it.
The Tarnalin
Here is another that’s packed full of different movements and sections. It has some killer jamming. It makes me think of Nektar at times, too. I dig the horn work later in the piece. That section even calls to mind Red-era King Crimson a bit. As much as I like everything here, this might be my favorite song on the album. It just seems to have everything, and it seems to do it all with so much style and flair.
It's All Around You
A short piece, this has a lot of psychedelia built into it.
The Red Knight
A killer guitar dominated movement leads things out of the gate here. This is a smoking hot rocker. In some ways this is the most direct rocker here. Still, they pack enough changes and prog things into it to keep it interesting. Somehow this number makes me think of Peter Banks’ post Yes band Flash quite a bit.
Sunset of Man
Coming in mellow and a bit folk meets classical in nature, this has some intriguing psychedelia in the mix as the vocals join. The cut evolves slowly and gradually. This works to a killer prog rock jam that has a lot of diversity and adventure built into it. It makes its way through all kinds of shifts. There are some particularly soaring sections in the instrumental movement that takes it in the final half. That gets so intense. After a short vocal section the jamming continues and includes some of the most intense bass work of the album. This extended closing movement really makes for an incredibly potent conclusion to the disc.
 
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