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What’s most interesting about Puerto Rico/NYC based band Fantasmes' latest album “Redness Moon” is not necessarily the obvious, but rather what is happening “underneath.” “Cloud Prepositions” emerges through a slow, purposeful, rising groove. Droning background pulses underscore prominent tambourine percussion, tubular-belled guitars and eno-esque treated keyboards. The vocals are muted and obscure, creating mood over storytelling. The title track “Redness Moon” (video below) is more defined, with its driving drums and layered arpeggiated guitar chords. The tom toms rumble like beat keepers on 15th century warships, adding a tense quality to this already mysterious soundscape. “Play It Wrong” keeps the vocals just as vague, but adds a harsher electric guitar to the mix. Distant conversational vocals are just out of earshot, adding to the mysterious nature. This allows the percussion to move forward, sharing prime sonic real estate with aggressively struck guitar chords. “Dance in the Shadows” slows it down again, with gentle acoustic guitar leading the way. Vocal lyrics become clearer, with the line “I should be there” as a repeated refrain. “Passages” brings back the trippy drone, slow building guitar chords and masked spoken word vocals. It is beatless, but again trance-enducing and meditative. A clearly defined rhythm initially drives “Monsters’ Mother” until that too abruptly lurches into a Doors-like humming trance and erratic drum-centric passage. A third movement closes out the track via a fuller (but rhythmically different) driving, with moaned vocal amd guitar-flailing raveup. “Let it Repeat” presents the kind of twisted toy piano plings and chimes over ominous humming that you might hear in a horror movie. That half-a-minute contribution serves as a segway into “Today is Still.” Surprisingly the lyrics can be made out here with the line “there are days like these I’m sure I’m never coming home” setting the stage. Ancient Chinese bell percussion clang and ping over bright guitar picking, creating an atmospheric tour-de-force. - Dave Cromwell
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