Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dandelion Gum - Black Moth Super Rainbow

Dandelion Gum

Black Moth Super Rainbow
Graveface Records.

SCQ Rating: 79%

I read somewhere that Black Moth Super Rainbow, a group of starry-eyed bohemians who live in the wooded seclusion of rural Pennsylvania, sound like the most astronomically drugged up version of Air. Such cheap comparisons are regular among lazy music critics but it’s so commonly used because it’s an easy way to caricature an artist’s sound, and in this case they’re not far off. However, if I had to pick an artist for comparison, I’d offer Dan Snaith of Caribou, whose love of 60s psychedelic-rock can be avidly seen in Dandelion Gum; the multi-coloured monster I’m currently listening to on repeat. At seventeen tracks clocking in at under fifty minutes, Black Moth Super Rainbow torpedo into tripped-out electronic passages, relaxed tie-dye rockers, and vocals sung exclusively with a vocoder – who can blame critics for seeking an easy way out?

Of course, it would be easy to cut and run if the record didn’t show such promise. Take ‘Jump Into My Mouth and Breathe The Stardust’, the second track from Dandelion Gum, which kicks into a Cat Power-esque guitar riff circa 2003 – moody but energized with tight drums – and add the otherworldly elements of vocodered singing and alien synths. Like much of this record, it’s startlingly summery, from the open-field relaxing vibes of ‘Sun Lips’ to a quietly regretful humidity of ‘Neon Syrup for the Cemetery Sisters’; these songs are lyrically and musically passionate about sunshine, long grass, and, well, candy.

This wide-eyed innocence remains palpable for the same reason their overuse of the vocoder doesn’t get irritating; Dandelion Gum’s arrangements were designed for lo-fi pacifism, while providing ample variety in brief instrumentals to keep things inventive. The highway cruise of ‘Rollerdisco’ is slick beats and buried vocals; a smooth detour from the ragged majority of Dandelion Gum, while ‘Spinning Cotton Candy in a Shake Made of Shingles’ is positively insular, with hazy guitar and tape manipulation sounding strangely like Boards of Canada. All the same, nothing about this band is minimal, and because they feed off their excesses, some fuzzy guitar explosions and warped keyboard will occasionally trigger a sense of déjà vu.

At seventeen songs and packed with ideas, Dandelion Gum isn’t so much bloated as it is a treasure trove of what the band has to offer: extroverted psych-rock, electronic noise, and, most impressively, emotionally-driven softer pieces like the sentimental closer ‘Untitled Roadside Demo’. Despite my advice that you treat this collection like a compilation upon initial listening, BMSR have succeeded in tying these often-polarizing moments into a unified album.

Listen to Black Moth Super Rainbow here.

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