Pros and cons are all these reviews come down to. You listen, you find some nice things, you point out the bad and you hope they balance out. In the case of Chicago, Illinois based solo project Black Moon Book and his Self Titled debut record, you’ll see a prime example of “I want this to be good” but… Well, let’s have this bit speak for itself instead of my typical excessive cuntery shall we?
BMB takes the route of soft-spoken, ambient, almost trippy acoustic rock. The writing and instrumental sections come off feeling like The Cure, soft-serve Smashing Pumpkins, and very early day Pink Floyd tried stuffing themselves into the same gas station glory hole, where the recording quality tends to sound like the child said gas station glory hole created. Where there are satisfying moments, there are some glaring aspects that keep you from being able to enjoy the bits that are actually kinda nice. You hope for either folk or grunge vibes with heartening emotion in either a bright or eerie direction, and you’re met with odd synthesized bells/whistles and half measure vocal technique. I don’t mean odd badly, I mean odd in the sense that it’s very reminiscent of the two older of the references I previously mentioned, yet lacking in the kind of clarity and quality this choice of synth so badly deserves for it to sound any good. I also don’t mean half measure badly either, however, this is absolutely the aspect that made this listen a slog.
“Binary Memories” opens with much hope as you’re met with clean and bright compositions, immediately giving you the impression that this could potentially be a particularly beautiful piece. However, the half whisper, half measure, and triple production style vocal section of Mark Lofgren immediately muddles the waters and creates a consistency of annoyance from this very moment that then seems to attach itself to every possible section before you know it. String sections lack grit or thickness, drums are very blatantly odd a machine (which is fine if mixed properly), and I’m going to babble a bit too much about the vocals and keys so I’ll do everybody a favor and pinch off here. The proceeding songs carry the same painful tendencies of off-color mixing and vocal techniques. I’m entirely for each musician’s creative inclination towards the execution of your art, but there’s a definitive line between unique and unpleasant.
Truly and honestly, any section of any song on this record could have been sung at full mast and it would have made a world of a difference, but the present style of repeatedly layered whisper/whimper singing only relays a sense of shyness. Still, I can’t seem to find the need, want, or ability to shit on this record as I normally would. So pro, there are honestly some decent guts at times and moments with potential. Con, it’s all just potential. The actual execution of the things that would make this record a piece to pass around all fell short (I.e any given vocal section, as well as most of the key and ambient synths choices). Pros, cons and a whole lot of heartbreak leaves us wondering maybe this could be done better live? Or maybe I can outright fuck off? You decide.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*Edited by Dominic Abate