Midsummer – Moon Shadow EP

Moon Shadow EP

Midsummer’s second EP, Moon Shadow, probably didn’t have to be self-released. Their first EP, Catch and Blur, garnered enough praise and excitement that I’m sure several indie labels would have been thrilled to help release it. But Midsummer decided to do this on their own. It adds to the intrigue that this band created, in my mind, and I wouldn’t be surprised that the two EPs garner them even greater praise.
But things have changed a little bit from the textured, shoe-gazing rock-based music of Catch and Blur. On Moon Shadow, Midsummer add even more layers of symphonic guitars and keyboards, swirling them with multiple vocals for a beautiful and quite dreamy affair. Each of these four tracks, numbered I to IV, is a long, beautiful, powerful piece. And while they’re quite lovely on their own, they really should be taken as a part of the whole, making this feel like one long epic, and it is almost of epic proportions.
“I” starts off moody and quiet, and as it flows for it’s 6+ minutes, it never really picks up speed. But as the vocals swirl around the layered guitars and keyboards, difficult to understand but so beautiful, and as the drums kick in, the song has a kind of dreamy, moody, almost eerie feel. Think Mercury Rev at times, only more melodic. On “II,” the guys increase the tempo a bit with the rhythm and layers of guitars, and the vocals are more prominent, making this the more rock-oriented song of this release. Yet it’s just as gorgeous, with layers of swirling guitars and multiple vocals. And the use of strings for an orchestrated feel is almost breath-taking.
“III” has a bit more of a guitar focus, where you can pick out electric and acoustic guitars from the mix, and the vocals are even more understandable. With melodic guitar throughout, this 9+ minute track runs from low and ominous to lofty and inspiring. The intensity increases when driving guitars mix with drums that build to a crescendo and then slowly back off. By its ending, as it explodes and suddenly peace arises through soft chimes and strings, you’re feeling as if this music envelops you, surrounds you. By “IV,” you’re ready for a breather. The song comes in low and quiet, with multiple vocals blending together nicely over melodic guitar, giving pace to a more intricate rock song rather than orchestrated affair. Still, the layers of guitars and keys are here, making an audible texture to support the lyrics. The guitar here is downright beautiful, almost classical in sound. And by the end, the layers of sounds and vocals are so soft, so sweet, so flowing, you’ll barely notice when it’s over.
While the vocals are often difficult to pick out of the mix, a look at the lyrics adds quite a bit to these songs. On “II,” they sing, “through desire and moon shadow / the road ahead / a journey taken as light through a veil.” And on III: “Borne away on winds I can’t rescind / on pleadings terse for eclipse reversed / for lunar skin stained red instead.”
Absolutely gorgeous. I can think of no better words to describe the music on Moon Shadow. Catch and Blur was more of a textured rock album, but Moon Shadow is up there with the beauty of Sigur Ros or Godspeed You Black Emperor! Complicated, intense, and intricate, this is amazing stuff.