Crate-Digging Archive: AGES – And to the Moon We Went

I have a completely-filled 120 GB iPod classic, the record crate of the digital age, containing my entire music library. I’m listening to each release in alphabetical order by record title – kind of a virtual archaeological dig. These are my findings.

Originally published sometime in early 2009. Presented here with minimal revision. I was also unable to find the album cover online, so this cool image of the moon will have to suffice.

(Wise Owl Records, 2008)

Not actually the album cover, but pretty cool nonetheless.

This may be the biggest surprise I’ve discovered in the recent past. I’m fairly new to the drone and noise scene (workin’ on that), so it’s kind of weird that this record should stick with me as much as it does. It’s a pleasant surprise.

I just downloaded this one within the past couple months from Wise Owl Records, so I don’t have a lot of history with it, but I’ve sat through it in its entirety twice. The first time I found myself halfway through track 3 of 5 (the album’s 35 minutes long) and I realized that, although I was doing some work at the time, I had tricked myself into being enthralled with the music – don’t worry, the work didn’t suffer. The thing about it is, And to the Moon We Went could be the soundtrack for a cerebral sci fi movie, like 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Fountain or Sunshine (before the end) – a great lost-in-space kind of movie where there’s more self-psychoanalyzation and personal discovery than lasers and hyperspeed.

Track 1, “An Introduction,” layers processed guitar loops on top of each other, resolving chord suggestions in melancholy – we’re not quite sure that it’s a good idea to take off into space on this mission, leaving everything behind, but we’re exhilarated at the prospect of scientific discovery. The loops are gradually swallowed by feedback clouds as the ship ignites in track 2 (“Exiting the Atmosphere”) and begins its ascent toward the heavens. The feedback builds until it breaks and a single, crystal clear delayed guitar replaces the violence of the ship in the atmosphere with the cold, empty expanses of space, leaving the listener/astronaut to experience the sense of awe at the blue sphere behind, the black expanse and small, distant, white moon ahead.

Track 4, “Touching Down,” reintroduces the feedback layers as the ship enters the moon’s orbit, although the violence is lessened with the prospect of the weaker gravity. The ship lands, and it’s here the true meaning of the mission is revealed. Part V, “Into the Moon,” reintroduces the single peaceful, heavily reverbed and delayed guitar, but as the title would suggest, there’s a Bradbury-esque reason for being here: a presence or life force or entity exists within the moon (we all knew this, didn’t we?). The work begins, and the guitar is still peaceful as the search for the moon’s secrets progresses. But the feedback creeps back in, and the guitar and feedback begin to merge – until now, the break between the two was fairly clean, but the mixture seems somehow off, as if something’s going wrong. Whatever is in the moon is not what the astronauts were expecting. It’s not malevolent, but it combines itself with the explorers’ essences, gradually drawing them closer to itself until it becomes part of them and them with it – a tragic and beautiful ending.

So download this for a heady thrill ride, but I suggest listening to it all at once.

RIYL: hard ambient, drone, noise

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