Release Date: Aug 2, 2011
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
There’s a pretty decent chance that if you find yourself questioning whether or not a rabidly bleeping and organ-driven track involves Spencer Krug—it probably does. By conquering the dilemma of multitasking, the Canadian mastermind successfully manages to keep tabs on a steadily increasing roster of side projects that, when he’s not serving alongside Dan Boeckner as the co-leader of Wolf Parade (who recently announced an extended hiatus) and leading fellow Canadian rockers Sunset Rubdown, occasionally includes Swan Lake, a handful of other acts and his recently developed solo project under the Moonface moniker. Organ Music not Vibraphone like I’d Hoped is the first full-length release from Krug’s effort, a follow-up to last year’s 20-minute single track debut EP, Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums, which features the artist putting his own spin on the marimba, a traditional West African wood-block percussion instrument.
With keyboard and drum machine-led swirls, higher-pitched and echoed vocals, and an embrace for what could be called art-pop-not-rock, Moonface's Organ Music is very much in the right place for 2011 at the least, something that kicks against surroundings while still being part of a non-unified grouping of artists increasingly interested in just that approach. Wolf Parade veteran Spencer Krug's singing has a gently mannered feeling that could almost be from 1986 on some obscure indie label, but the music, however equally derived from a cryptic and fragmented past, matches it in being something that feels of a new moment, a recombination that seeks its own logic. The theme of ocean dwelling and exploration runs through the first two titles and there's a feeling of watery quaver at work sonically too, something that the vocal treatments don't hurt; listening to his wordless calls on, appropriately enough, "Whale Song" (only in breaks rather than the full run) is appropriately entrancing.
Looking back at Expo '86, Wolf Parade's last album, you can kind of hear a hiatus coming. It's a solid record, but compared to its predecessors it's a bit bloated and unfocused. The urgency isn't quite there, and there are moments where you can feel the band's exploration running thin. They certainly don't fall off, they've just done all they could, at least for now.
While we’d all like albums labelled 'Moonbeams and Jellybeans', or 'Technicolor Ponies in Digital Snow' to live up to what they says on the spine, by and large they don’t. (Okay, so those would be awful, but you get the point: a lot of self-professed psychedelia just sounds like ugly synths and over-used effects rather than what they're meant to evoke. ) On the other hand, it’s a mark of Spencer Krug’s singular perversity that his last two releases have tried really hard to be as 'composerly' as possible in their titles, but even so the psychedelia of the contents seeps through into the phrasing.
Late last year, Wolf Parade announced that they were going on an "indefinite hiatus." What this actually means-- and whether or not it's a bit premature to talk of their "lifespan"-- is unclear, but fortunately, Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug do not need each other to make good music. Last month Boeckner's electro-punk duo Handsome Furs released Sound Kapital, and it was undoubtedly the most impassioned record they've made yet. The prolific Krug, on the other hand, has been churning out interesting music for years with a variety of different projects, be it the eccentric supergroup Swan Lake or the increasingly ambitious one-time side project Sunset Rubdown.
With Wolf Parade on indefinite hiatus, I’m sure a lot of critics were worried that without co-frontman Dan Boeckner’s more straightforward songwriting to rein him in, Spencer Krug’s already-winding material would become so maze-like as to leave listeners stranded. Personally, I wouldn’t have complained. Far from seeming “self-indulgent” or just plain boring, Krug’s most complex songs have, to me, always felt the most propulsive.
With Wolf Parade on hiatus, Moonface is co-lead singer Spencer Krug's one-man band (amid a myriad of other projects). Following 2010's Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums, the followup's equally disarming, self-critical title refers to an abandoned attempt to record using mostly vibraphone. Instead, Krug opted for repeated organ arpeggios and retro, primitive drum machines.
This guy Spencer Krug loves making records. (I will take my Pulitzer now, journalists.) Reviewers are, in fact, contractually obligated to mention Krug’s prolific output when discussing his oeuvre—and, in keeping with the man’s increasingly fanciful lyrical work and sky-high earnestness, we’re also required to say oeuvre in our most nasal, wilting, sweater-tied-around-our-shoulders accent. Krug begs this attention to detail and to history because he’s a rare breed, a songwriter interested in creating his own lexicon—or, if we can also be earnest for a moment, his own world.
It is baffling to consider how both Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner of the critically-acclaimed Canadian indie-rock group Wolf Parade never let electronica flourish on their work together as Wolf Parade. Both have dedicated much time and energy into the genre – enough to send Wolf Parade on an indefinite hiatus. Or perhaps with Wolf Parade out of the picture (for now at least), Krug and Boeckner can move on a common underlying curiosity for electronic-oriented sounds.
Guess who’s back, back again. Spencer is back. Tell a friend. Seriously, though, tell a friend. They might not know one of Wolf Parade’s lead singers has a new record out. It’s hard to keep track of this shit. Spencer Krug is indeed back for more, and his absurdly and descriptively titled ….
Surely any art is some kind of self-indulgent act for its purely aesthetic level. Wanting to create something majestic and realizing that you have something to offer is an interesting balance and, yet, some musicians relish in releasing album after album of music. So, even in that sense, is it really acceptable to mark one’s eccentric abilities as self-indulgent hysteria? For all we know Spencer Krug’s Moonface project is a deliberate excuse to release embellished music that feeds an inner sense.
Spencer Krug has always struck me as a somewhat reluctant rock star. As co-frontman in Wolf Parade, he was 'the one with the weird voice', responsible for the more complex arrangements, happy to leave the big anthemic pop songs and traditional lead-singer posturing to the more confident Dan Boeckner. As part of the 'Canadian indie supergroup' Swan Lake, his contributions were far subtler than the Bowie-esque theatrics of his co-conspirators, Destroyer's Dan Bejar and Frog Eyes' Carey Mercer, whilst even Sunset Rubdown evolved from a decidedly DIY solo project into a full-band affair once it started to take off.
Chances are, you’re already privy to the situation: Wolf Parade is officially done, and frontman Spencer Krug has turned his ever-changing attention to his Moonface project, which he explained in a press release “is not a band” but “any solo collaborative projects I’m involved in from now until whenever. ” Last winter, Krug hunkered down in his Montreal home to record an LP based around percussive vibraphone jams; but when those ideas just wouldn’t come, he ended up writing music on an old double manual organ. Even that plan didn’t play out completely.