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Moonface – Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums

on February 04, 2010, 3:15pm
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For those familiar with Spencer Krug, you know the drill when one of his many projects emerges with some new music.Acquire it, listen to it, and, in most cases, love it.For the newcomers… where have you been? Over the last decade, Krug has proven to be one of indie rock’s more intriguing contributors.The guy doesn’t sleep much, what with being a key member of every band you like (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, Frog Eyes, etc.). However, when he does take a few minutes to lay down, he dreams of riding around on leopards, exploring confetti-filled wastelands, getting lost in folds of dresses, and slaying dragons.He’s got quite the imagination!But he’s always dreaming up something new.This time around, either somebody slipped something strong into his cactus juice (clearly that’s his drink of choice), or he dozed off to a Discovery Channel special on Zimbabwean rituals.Who knows, maybe it was a combination of both.Either way, with the newest manifestation of the Krug Empire, a little project called Moonface, shit just got a little tribal. And if you thought Krug had weird dreams before, then you have simply got to hear this.

The Dreamland EP consists of a 20-minute track labeled “Marimba and Shit-Drums.”The song’s title doesn’t lie.What we’ve got here is an epically long marimba composition accompanied by “shit-drums.”I don’t know what’s come over Krug, but this sitcom-length marimba exercise somehow presents a side of the Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown/Swan Lake/every-other-fucking-band frontman we’ve yet to see in his ever-expanding catalogue.Though the marimba composition is pretty intricate, as a whole it’s relatively sparse. Yet, in many ways, it’s consuming.

If I told you Spencer Krug wrote a 20-minute song on Marimba, banged on some trash cans and bass drums, and sang a weaving narrative filled with nightmarish imagery, what sounds would come to mind?What you’ve got in your head probably isn’t so far off from what Moonface’s Dreamland EP actually sounds like.The first question you probably want to ask about “Marimba and Shit-Drums” is, “Why?”But, in all honesty, we don’t really need an answer.The absurdity of the idea is the source of most of its intrigue.Spencer Krug just does what he wants.This time, he’s using some new, albeit peculiar, instrumentation. Simply put, it works. And it’s a hell of a lot better than you’d think.  

Over the course of the track, tantalizing marimba bounces around Krug’s reverberating howl. The tune’s style and structure mostly recall some of the tracks off of last year’s Dragonslayer.“I ventured into a dreamland,” Krug dribbles over his own haunting vocal harmonies.Drums bang like trash cans, and the few layers come together for a surprisingly full sound.As the flourishing, bright marimba notes weave into one another, we can’t help but follow along into the dreamland, where Krug plays “a glass guitar” and sings to the gods.We are voyeurs of an amalgam of Krug’s nightmares, and it’s pretty spectacular.It’s hard to tell what Krug’s getting at, with all of his Fellini-esque imagery melting together, but it’s almost irrelevant.We don’t need an explanation as to why he watches a doctor check a girl for a fever, only to exclaim, “He’s just reading her mind.” It’s just part of the nightmare.

As the song progresses, notes grow skittish and get freaky, and Krug throws more oddities our way.It’s a very well-orchestrated track, especially considering we haven’t heard this instrument in Krug’s work before.Sure, the marimba can feel a little repetitive over the course of the long track, but at least Spence isn’t lying to us.You knew what you were getting yourself into when you read the title.  And if you throw your reservations out the window, Krug makes a good case for the marimba as a lead instrument.  Especially if he’s the one playing it and singing along.  

If you like Krug’s songwriting style and his obscure, metaphorical imagery, then you’d be foolish to pass on Moonface.But, even if you’re not a full-on Kruggie, this lengthy track can give you a good idea of how the man operates.It’s not the best introduction, but it’s not the worst. If this does happen to be that for you, don’t see it as a representation of all of Krug’s music, but merely as an extension of his capabilities.See this as proof of just how far Krug is willing to push his songcraft, how weird he can get, and how good it always ends up sounding. Here, Krug proves he can literally do as he pleases. Luckily, his eccentricities please him and his fans alike. All of this being said, if you don’t like marimba, stay the hell away from this thing.

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