(Inner Islands, 2015)
Hang on to your mushrooms, because Dragontime is here to steal em and eat em. Or, they’re here to force their own, wackier mushrooms down your throat. Because what better way to experience this trippy new tape from Inner Islands than with a belly full of psilocybin? Well, if you’re me, a belly not full of psilocybin is the way to go, but my super-excellent drug-free lifestyle might not be the target one here. But hey, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this thing! Chalk it up to the good music.
The duo is made up of Kephera Moon and Robin MacMillan, who get all crazy and junk over campfire tunes and percussion, then inject that stuff with synthesizers and ethereal vocals. Imagine if Feels-era Animal Collective merged with Enya, and you’re sort of in the ballpark. Still, my favorite tracks turn out to be the instrumental ones – “Futures Past” leads off the album perfectly, with a psychedelic bite and natural groove you can just float on down a forest stream for a while, looking up at the sun peering through the tree branches. And “Matty Groves Part 1” features what sounds like a baseball stadium organ being played across six decades of hiss through an old Victrola – love that warm tone.
But yes, the vocal pieces work well too, specifically “Sombra Sola,” where Moon is mixed back a little bit and really flows gracefully with the rest of the track. It’s the most Julee Cruise-esque chamber blues dirge thing here (that’s a lot of qualifiers), and functions nicely within the context of the rest of the tape. But still, it’s “Serendip” and “Way to Karnak” that highlight the end of the cassette, reminding, somehow, of Final Fantasy VII, or VIII (or maybe even XI) incidental music, the kind that plays in villages at night. I’m a sucker for that vibe.
Inner Islands has reissued Dragontime in this format, as it was originally released in 2012 on CDR via Psychic Arts Records. How’s that for underground label infidelity! Yucky. …I mean, uh, cool, if you’re spreading the good cheer! And yes, this is cheerful. And good. Not yucky.
RIYL: Ki Oni, Hear Hums, softest