The Right Side of Mystery by Nathan Moody

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Nathan Moody | The Right Side of Mystery
Noisejockey (2xCS/DL)

In what looks like a neat lil’ limited edition package (8 remain at presstime) Nathan Moody unveils his latest, a twenty-one track double tape set titled The Right Side of Mystery. Let’s jump into the first of four sides via The Namegiver. A dark strum greets us at the doors of this self-described “post-apocalyptic Appalachian doom.” Not having yet traveled to this part of the country, I’ll take his word for it as the folk jangle seems slightly territorial, into the ominous gong on Bring the Lantern Down. My ears are quite receptive to the electroacoustic reverb and resonance of cymbals, bells and such things, they often can be quite centering. His synths are gleaming, glossy, stretched thinly, offering a sultry translucence. All these tracks are rather short, averaging around three minutes, it’s like a flight of work, a tasting. And that seems to work given his balance of tribal-like percussion and pleasant melodies heard throughout both Allmother and Steppe Stones.

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Stonewrist is a bit more Southern fried in its delivery, and offers a double-take within the proceedings herein. It’s like a kernel of country folk music blended into an electronic environment. It’s an uncommon fusion (also heard on the twang of Substance is the Timeless Reality), and if you keep an open mind you might start to get the feels for this unorthodox bluegrass/electronica blend.

Hatchling is a bit of a ‘tweener with an Asian-tinged theme with a rat-a-tat reedy percussion. And these bits of incidental music creep up here and there, but instead of seeming like filler, each has a personality, whether its darker or a bit tribal, game-like or enigmatic, Moody has given space for lots of variable textures and atmospheres which are all rather listenable. Personally I enjoy longer takes of electronic music but this is so atypical in its delivery, which makes its surprise vignettes that much more affable (with its own edge, of course).

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It’s true as Moody says that these are ‘short movies that play inside your head’. One very important note is that all instruments played here, strings and percussion, were handmade by the artist, which may be part of the authentic Earthy feel projected, especially from the bowed strings. When he truly slows the timing down, as on Unite With the Stars, we begin to hear a more introspective side of his compositions. I’m reminded of several of the early records on the Kranky imprint here – this fits well within the non/structure of work by Low, Stars of the Lid, etc. In all this is a far-reaching deep listening style recording, almost more sound than can be digested in one sitting – hence the double cassette. That said, I’d imagine this somehow edited into a tranquil hour long passage with its respective flickers, bumps and other haunting narratives.

The deep choral on Five Men Sing to Dawn is within a genre unto its own, bathed in a dark ambient light with a hickory smoked dapple to it. Likely one of the most floating works in this collection. There are moments in plucky repose (Needle Teeth) and fleeting post-apocalyptic rock (Droughtbreaker) but however polar it may sound, they seem to work up against each other – like a drawn out dialogue between disgruntled family members that heals within minutes. The smooth drone of Ferromancy melds into the metallurgic glint Crime and Refuge with an awkward off-beat quality, shifting the way we continue to listen. While the former may not be a favorite here, the concluding Liturgy cries out into swirling echoes in open space and raises an eyebrow. The airy chant-tone writhes in a mysterious dance to the god/desses of the universe, drawing flared lines, off the edge to its final breath.

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