by trevor elkin
It turns out the Moon doesn’t actually orbit Earth at all. Instead, Earth and Moon orbit each other, around a point between them. This point is currently hidden deep inside the Earth’s crust. So, our relationship with the Moon is an unstable illusion. One that keep us all alive, for now. Sometimes it’s best not to know.
A similar elusive fragility pervades Danielle Fricke’s ‘Moon’, her debut solo album after previous project Snow Mantled Love was put on indefinite hold. Where Snow Mantled Love overflowed with feeling and barely contained its emotional force, ‘Moon’ frugally uses gentle guitar chimes, sounds of the wilderness, space and silence to gradually build a tentative connection with us, just before it slips out of reach.
Make me dizzy, take me in, slow it down quietly…”
Falling headlong and full of expectation into this album, the opening song ‘Tenterhooks’ has an unexpected braking effect, like landing in thick layers of soft, powdered snow. Descending deeper and deeper, we are next inside the still, icy blackness of the title track, where the only warmth comes through Fricke’s hushed, featherlike voice: “let me be your moon when you go out at night”. ‘The Well’ shifts again into even darker mood, a desperate cry for help from the confinement of heartbreaking emptiness – a story that continues without words in the brooding, lost tundra of ‘Yours Til The Ocean’. ‘Dizzy’ playfully blends different textures of piano, shimmering saws and guitars, making them collide and dance like a carousel. With its rolling string samples and clattering rhythms the slower charm of ‘Cicadas’, followed by the subdued yawning feedback of ‘Grey’ provide a sadder, colder take on the hot anticipation felt at the beginning.
Among the unseen, evolving imaginative processes at the heart of ‘Moon’ is something clicking and whirring. ‘Heirloom’ is a brief glimpse at these glitchy inner workings, marking the minutes and miles of separation and loneliness. On ‘Maisy’, dreamy introspection is allowed to fully blossom, suddenly becoming an angrier, louder inner voice fighting through fuzzy, distorted waves – “you’ll be ok, you can make it out”. The ghostly serenade of ‘Mourning Dove’ provides a personal moment, filling the space where a significant other should be with hope and ritual. The Mourning Dove is a monogamous bird and is currently under threat of extinction, (just saying).
‘Keep me from waking up…’
To borrow from a previous review, sometimes there are no words for this quality of music. It’s personal stuff, and departing track ‘Rabbit’ definitely does not deserve ham-fisted stabbing at keyboard to come up with a barely adequate description. Let’s just say that you should listen at least three times, really listen. At some pivotal point in between you and ‘Moon’, you will feel its raw visceral intensity beyond the bleakness. The right words are written there.
Themes of absence and distance feature strongly on ‘Moon’, but wholly unlike the sentiment invoked by that recent seasonal UK television advert (hint: it was also set on the moon and there’s a man on it) Fricke’s own take on loneliness and longing doesn’t always have a happy ending. What you get is a purer, real world perspective on how it feels to really miss someone, something or some place – even things you never had. Songwriting is just one aspect of Fricke’s creative output. For several tracks on the album, she has created a visual representation adding more layers to the enigma. Songs from ‘Moon’ and some original music also feature on the amazing short film ‘Cold’ by Emily Diana Ruth, which you should watch immediately after streaming this rather stunning album, below.
Moon is out now, via Porch Light Records. Buy it here.
Danielle Fricke on Facebook