Moon Diagrams – Lifetime Of Love

Moon Diagrams – Lifetime Of Love

Whilst it was logical enough that Deerhunter’s two singing-guitarists Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt felt the need to divert some of their excess energies into solo projects, with Atlas Sound and Lotus Plaza respectively, it was perhaps more improbable that co-founding drummer Moses John Archuleta could justify a side-venture too.  Yet here is his debut album under the Moon Diagrams alias, following on from the limited cassette-only Care Package EP released in 2015.  A far less songs-centric affair than Cox and Pundt’s own detours, the sprawling Lifetime Of Love takes some of the fringe noise elements from Deerhunter’s more outré corners and runs in completely different directions.

The double-length set, dominated by its largely wordless tracks, which was constructed over ten years under the shadow of heavy pharmaceutical use, a weighty romantic relationship breakdown and – of course – the demands of his Deerhunter duties, is not a straightforward listen.  Yet, there is something that drives it along with the purpose of more than just a time-filling extracurricular trip.

Assembled from samples spliced-in from second-hand vinyl finds, guitars, keyboards, drums, percussion and other harder to identify instrumentation, Archuleta is deceptively adept at fashioning a bespoke sonic world here.  Opening with the murky atonal dronespacing and ecclesiastical ululations of “Playground” may be a little bit off-putting but the ensuing “Moon Diagrams” is a far more arresting dark-pop nugget built around tropical drums, murmured vocals and sweeping synths.  From there Lifetime Of Love enters longer labyrinthine corridors of aural journeying; veering through the dub-drenched prowling of “Nightmoves”, the ambient-techno of the 11+ minute “Blue Ring”, the epic Tangerine Dream-meets-latter-day-Four Tet immersions of “The Ghost And The Host”, the queasily juddering “Windowlicker”-era Aphex Twin-like “Magic Killer” and the Cocteau Twins-gone-electro-noire of “Bodymaker” (with guest vocals from Sian Ahern of Eaux and Sian Alice Group).  After such expansive explorations, Lifetime Of Love completely regenerates for the glorious finale of “End Of Heartache”. As if beamed in from another dimension to unfurl as a cross-fertilisation of Panda Bear’s most swooning harmonies and Chic’s most infectious vintage funk, it could be the album’s transferable – though wholly unrepresentative – viral-hit.

Whilst certainly disjointed and disorientating in its execution, this first full Moon Diagrams showcase is an oddly gripping sonic ride that suggests that there is plenty of artistic life beyond the drum stool for Moses Archuleta.

Sonic Cathedral (UK/Europe) / Geographic North (US/ROW)