Audio Mixer: Rian Trench.
Following two EPs released in 2012 and 2013, Irish electronic musician MMOTHS (Jack Colleran) took three years to write, record, and release his debut full-length, relocating to Los Angeles in the process. The album continues the moody, atmospheric downtempo sound of his EPs, with ambient techno beats and keyboard melodies cloaked in vast, cavernous reverb, but while those releases included appearances by guest vocalists including Holly Miranda and former Keep Shelly in Athens singer Sarah P., Luneworks is sung entirely by Colleran himself. Also in line with the EPs, his falsetto crooning is airy and distant, feeling like a shadow on the wall of the recording studio rather than being sung directly into the microphone, and it's difficult to tell if the songs have proper lyrics. The album's 14 cuts (including a few interludes clocking in at less than a minute each) flow in and out of one another, in contrast to the concise song structures of the EPs, lending to the album's ethereal, dreamlike feel. This time out, Colleran seems to have become enamored with guitar feedback, and most of the tracks here are awash with layers of electrified yet smoothly controlled static. More than anything, the shoegaze-leaning guitars and vocals of songs such as "Deu" are reminiscent of German musician Ulrich Schnauss' Slowdive-influenced electronic work from the mid-2000s. Colleran takes plenty of opportunities to drift off into beatless space, resulting in lovely moments such as the kaleidoscopic piano fantasy "Verbena," but the album's most memorable tracks inevitably end up being the ones where he attaches a thumping 4/4 beat, such as the melancholy standout "Eva," where Colleran's wailing vocals take the spotlight and the pools of guitar feedback are more evenly spaced instead of flooding the entire song. The phasing techniques of tracks like "Body Studies" as well as the clapping rhythms and marimbas of "1709" suggest a heavy Steve Reich influence. Significantly more experimental than Colleran's previous work, Luneworks also feels much more personal, and it continues to establish MMOTHS as a unique voice in the indie electronic scene. ~ Paul Simpson