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(2019 - Handmaid Products - USA)
Fans of this group may be either elated or puzzled, but the four tracks on this EP are crawling with early Mel Collins era King Crimson (specifically 'Lizard' and 'In The Wake Of Poseidon'), especially the first two extended cuts. Exotic explorations of Krautrock, Embryo jam, and stellar Canterbury liftoff follow on 'Lurching Herman', that will delight those fans. Brett Hart states this song "ponders the mysteries of Big Ugliness" and also that this song is older than their first full length CD, which begs a question of what other gems might be held back from older days.
Heavy use of sax, with keys, drums/percussion, round bass, equally embellishing guitar, and effects, the music presented here is all more extended than the usual tracks on their three CDs. A more jam approach is utilized and with grand success. I for one, am not only impressed, but on the roof cheering for more of this. While their 3rd CD (simply titled '3') showed distinct shades of this nostalgic space fuzz tripped out jam style (in fact, 'Waltzing Away From A Pickle' was a cut that got completed too late to make it on their 3rd release), and was the most cohesive platter of Moon Men's to date, this EP brings forth an even greater focus on that much missed genre, and my prediction is that this will bring more attention to them, and give due respect and awareness of their output. Moon Men no longer sound like a collage of many classic progressive and jazz rock bands, they are now becoming a method, a modus operandi with groove, and with music that sticks to your ribs for a good settling back and wandering off of the mind.
The low-key, sometimes lo-fi makeup of their recordings are to the benefit, which not only feels authentic to the era of this style, but also brings a softer and more laid back presentation. The organic atmosphere is pleasing, and that 'analog feel' is throughout. The music allows one to relax more and not be on guard so to say, on what might come next. Perhaps it is the state of the world, that causes this release to be so attractive, so happily accepted, but the content of '3.5...' speaks for itself, and surely is needed in the overproduced, way past cool factor technological world, and big brother mutha fukah place we call Earth. An EP it may be, but with over 30 minutes of music, it keeps focus and gives the audience a full aural experience. While I stated the music has become more jam oriented, it should not in any way suggest less structure, or patched together arrangements, because this disc is clearly thought out, accomplished, and an outcome of what Bret Hart (electric & acoustic guitars, Ebow, field recordings, Casio SK5, devices and electronics), Dave Newhouse (reeds and keyboards), Jerry King (basses, guitars, trombones), and Bill Jungwirth (drumming & percussion) with their decades of experience can do. In this listener's opinion, Moon Men have arrived. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 12 - 20 - 2019
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