Moongoose: Curtain Calls EP

Curtain Calls continues Moongoose’s progression into darker territory, with all 4 songs tending towards something approaching, but not quite reaching, melancholia.

Sun 13 favourites Moongoose seem to be going through something of a purple patch lately,  with their last album At Home With the Readymades being made album of the week over at Louder Than War and the accompanying single Waltzers being given a glorious makeover.

To add to this flurry of excitement, David ‘Yorkie’ Palmer’s band have now released a new EP, Curtain Calls as a companion piece to their last album.

This is excellent news for fans of Noir-like soundtracks, affecting instrumentals or, more generally, good music.

Curtain Calls continues Moongoose’s progression into darker territory, with all four songs tending towards something approaching, but not quite reaching, melancholia.

Opening track Back Into Familiar Rooms typifies this, starting out quietly, almost unnoticeably, until a sombre double bass starts up a call and response routine with an electronic pulse. Stabs of violin then start up, hinting at the Psycho theme tune, and the song grows slowly as further sounds are added. So does the tension the songs seems to inspire.

As usual, Moongoose’s richly atmospheric music conjures up images to go with these soundtracks in waiting. For Back Into Familiar Rooms, the image is that of a film’s opening scene, one that hints at the danger and menace to come. It is hard to explain how Moongoose do what they do, but the tension this song creates is palpable, I feel like I am waiting for something to happen, that some seismic event is about to happen.

Over seven minutes, Back Into Familiar Rooms builds subtly until a slow noise, like slowed down helicopter blades, takes over. How songs like this are created is beyond me, we are dealing with someone who has mastered the art of writing affecting music.

Next track Glass Slides also starts out quietly, but before long a four-to-the-floor bass drum comes in to give the atmospheric background noises and firm footing. The music gathers pace and some John Barry sounds appear in the mix, putting me in mind of The Box by Orbital.

A full set of drums kick in and Glass Slides reveals itself to be a dancefloor friendly track that could ne used to soundtrack an upbeat scene, such as a chase or people running away from unimaginable terror.

Sun 13’s Albums Quarterly #8

Moon Over Park reminds me of watching an old black and white sci-fi film. There is something of Fritz Lang’s work being conjured up in my mind’s eye. Simple repeating melodies cycle around each other as Moon Over Park grows into a multi-layered delight. Different elements of the songs are given prominence in the mix and, from the simplest of structures, the song develops and swells before our very eyes to something lush and expansive.

Last track Dark Windows has a more modern feel to it, with a drum machine refrain running through the song while electronics ebb and flow around it. Not for the first time with Moongoose, I am reminded of the understated elegance of Young Marble Giants, with the two bands sharing a less is more aesthetic and a natural appreciation of melody.

Curtain Calls is available on BandCamp here, as can Moongoose’s back catalogue, some of it in expanded versions. You could do a lot worse than diving in to Moongoose’s work and listening to one of the most fascinating bands Liverpool has yet produced.

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