New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

Epic, Sweeping, Gothic Nocturnes From the Moon and the Nightspirit

Don’t let the Moon and the Nightspirit’s name, or the title of their new album, Aether, lead you to think that this is hippie-dippy new age bullshit. Gothic psychedelia would be a more accurate way to describe the Hungarian band’s sound. They sing in their native language. The record is a suite, more or less; it comes with lyrics and English translations, which have a mystical focus. They like long, hypnotic, slowly crescendoing tableaux with both folk and classical influences.

Stately piano and frontwoman ‘Agnes Toth’s misty vocals blend with a whirl of white noise as the album’s opening, title track gets underway. From there Mihály Szabó takes over the mic, rising from a whisper to a roar as this one-chord jam hits a pummeling, imaginatively orchestrated sway. It comes full circle at the end.

That pretty much sets the stage for the rest of the record – streaming at Bandcamp and available on both purple and black limited-edition vinyl. The second track, Kaputlan Kapukon At (Through the Gateless Gates) has spare, circling twelve-string guitar and eerily tinkling piano over the slowly swaying neoromantic angst.

Toth moves back to lead vocals as the drifting minor-key vamp of Égi Messzeegek (Celestial Distances) gathers force; that bagpipe guitar is a tasty touch. Ringing twelve-string poignancy returns along with graceful, incisive harp above the oscillating loops and disquieting close harmonies in A Szarny (The Wing): it’s the album’s best and most majestic track.

With a deep-space twinkle from the harp and the keys, the album’s most hypnotic soundscape is Logos. The group follow a slow series of layers rich with somberly picked guitars, spare piano, keening microtonal violin and a wash of vocals in A Mindenseg Hivasa (Call of the Infinite). The suite ends with Asha, its Balkan folk illusions and a loop receding to the edge of the universe. Turn on, tune in, you know the rest.

Revisiting a Prophetic Movie Score From the 80s

When he wrote the score to the 1987 movie Robocop, did composer Basil Poledouris know how prophetic his use of a percussive imitation of a newswire ticker in the title theme would turn out to be?

The movie may be old news but the story was prescient. We all know how the lockdowners would love to tap into the movement to defund the police in order to eliminate the police completely, and replace them with their own for-profit gestapo – at taxpayer expense, of course.

Considering how well represented the tech oligarchs are among the lockdowners, it’s easy to imagine where this could go. The plodding, towering, impossible-to-camouflage Robocop itself may be a quaint artifact of 80s dystopia, but we’ve seen how drones have been employed, from Minneapolis to California, to spy on protestors. It doesn’t take rocket science to extrapolate from there.

How well does Poledouris’ score hold up by itself? It’s better than the movie: and there’s crushing irony in how organic it is, and how poignant much of the orchestartion is as well. Poledouris goes for lavish symphonic swellls rather than shock and awe, distant unease in lieu of sheer horror. The narrative may be futuristic, but the soundtrack is old-fashioned classical, with echoes of Shostakovich at his most martially sarcastic, Holst and Respighi at their most dramatic, as well as bombastic 19th century types like Berlioz. You can still hear it at Spotify.