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Exploding from a house on a lonely, windy hill in rural Kent, Moon > Sun’s debut EP smashes together garbled electronics, languid beats and lo-fi, improvised vocals to create something that hovers just on the borders of the familiar. The subtle, hidden melodies certainly give the sense that this is pop music, but it’s an unsettling kind of pop; the beats don’t always keep up, dissonance nudges its way in-between the harmonies and the it’s not always clear what’s a vocal line and what’s a synth.
Creator Isaac Ashby, a well-known figure in the UK DIY scene, goes some way towards explaining this strangeness: “Pretty much the entire EP was created through my stream of consciousness. Each song essentially represents a progressive thought in my brain.” The four songs are less tightly wound, meticulously planned units than spontaneous entities born out of moments of creative inspiration, in which a single thought gives birth to a winding, imaginative path. Improvisation, a lost gem in pop music, is a central feature of Moon > Sun’s work, and a key part of Isaac’s creative process, who explains that “lyrically, everything was improvised, and the majority of the recordings used are first takes. Same goes for the music. I feel like producing with such a sense of spontaneity allows for something more authentic and personal.”
The personal and the impersonal seem to clash on the EP’s four tracks, with haunting vocal lines coming up against fuzzy, reverberating keyboards that completely fill the claustrophobic space of the ear canal. “Norway”, for example, seems to leave the listener floating in space, trapped within their own mind but drifting freely and without control. In contrast to the fluidity of “Norway”, “Sail”, the EP’s unnerving closer, utilises outlandish, crushed guitar, pulsing background synths and half-wailed vocals to push pop to its absolute limits.
If Moon > Sun’s EP is strange, spontaneous and even unsettling it is so deliberately. Rather than sitting comfortably on the obvious and the tried-and-tested, Isaac Ashby forces you to both pay attention and to lose yourself, to both follow the intriguing melodies and to let them drift, and to realise that the best pop need not sit within mundane boundaries.
Out on Cassette through Little L Records Feb 2015
Words by Joe Stewart