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Moon Ate the Dark is Anna Rose Carter + Christopher Brett Bailey

Driven together by a shared love of film music and a mutual interest in repetition, Anna Rose Carter and Christopher Brett Bailey have been feeding pianos into guitar amplifiers since 2009. In 2012 they emerge with a new name and a debut release on Sonic Pieces.

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R E V I E W S


FLUID RADIO on Moon Ate the Dark - s/t

Sometimes processing works better when we scarcely notice it. When reverb – instead of opting for Maximum Shoegaze – simply adds size to the room. When delay only creates distance. When loops are discriminate, vital.

And sometimes it needs to spin totally out of control.

Just about all the Fluid Radio audience needs to read before listening is that Moon Ate The Dark is Anna Rose Carter and Christopher Brett Bailey. Carter, the prolific, Wales-born talent, secured Fluid’s top slot for albums released in 2010. Already a stellar endorsement, the article continued: “The album was also a huge source of inspiration to me earlier in the year whilst going through a difficult time and without ‘Silver Lines’ Fluid Radio would not be here today!” Bailey describes himself, with Twitter-brevity, as a “theatre-maker/ performer/ associate artist of Made in China/ musician.” The two have collaborated since 2009, with Carter on piano and Bailey on “guitar amplifiers” (hear a live improvisation found on Carter’s Soundcloud page). This way the Moon Ate The Dark alias and album fall somewhere between inauguration and relaunch.

The major-in-scope, minor-in-key “Explosions in a Four Chambered Heart” opens the self-titled debut. Carter performs a surrounding, uptempo waltz as Bailey produces sparse, quiet one-offs with his effects board: the electronic rippling of echo frequencies changing and settling in together in real time, and some un-oscillating sweeps of hoarse feedback. But Moon Ate The Dark seems primarily to be moon, with Bailey’s current acting as seasoning to Carter’s savory acoustics. “Messy Hearts” is a counterexample, with the lone piano multiplied beautifully into a sheet full of parallel lines. Gradually the lines skew with the quivery disequilibrium of a phaser effect. Again, Bailey adds nothing overbearing or overly-manipulated, that is until the final 90 seconds morph into frank feedback waves and the harsh crackling of static. The piano-and-clamor era formally begins here, with convincing measures of both, neither complete without the other.

Similarly, the brief “In Fiction” starts with a four-second outtake, a thudding low note, and a scratching, source-uncertain loop. The creepy hand-across-the-strings chord and alien rattle quicken the pulse, but the horror flick shuts off right at the opening credits. (Someone consult the playbook: certainly this earns us a penalty kick.) The following track “She/Swimming” is much more representative of the album, besides: a luxurious, hypnotic piano arrangement, with an almost organic dose of reverb and glistening ambient touches.

Moon Ate The Dark is a deceptively smart piece of composing and processing. Look for it on June 8, from Sonic Pieces.

- Fred Nolan for Fluid Radio

 

ACLOSERLISTEN on Moon Ate the Dark - s/t

A clinical approach to the piano is always dull, no matter how good the composition, but infused emotion is always alluring, even when the compositions are simple.  The strength of Anna Rose Carter is that she feels what she plays.  Her emotion generates resonance; repetition becomes a means of mood-building, rather than a crutch.  But no matter how good the player, solo piano often benefits from accompaniment.  This is where Christopher Bailey comes in.  His contributions are subtle, but deep.  By miking the instrument’s innards, adding reverb, and splicing in a few additional sounds, he adds depth and context, making the piano seem much more than a wooden box in a hall.  This first becomes apparent at the very end of “Explosions in a Four Chambered Heart”, as the quiet whooshes of the background rise into a brief bass hum.

Sonic Pieces’ Monique Recknagel has an ear for piano talent.  Previous releases from Nils Frahm, Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka attest to this helpful instinct.  ”Bellés Jar” is akin to Frahm’s work on Wintermusik, and its tender tonal shifts make it an early album highlight.  Perhaps this affinity inspired Frahm to contribute the mastering; or perhaps it’s simply that everyone in the Sonic Pieces family seems to be friends.  ”Capsules 11″ flourishes with floral scales followed by single dark notes, a sign of the album’s expansion into the experimental realm.  A midpoint plunge into the atonal comes as a surprise, but Bailey’s backdrop makes it work; by the album’s center, his intrigues become the foreground.  After basking in the sputtering spotlight, he bows, tips his hat, and invites Carter to reclaim center stage.  Her skills become especially apparent in the fractured final minutes of “Messy Hearts”, in which disjointed keys crumble in a series of light electronic bursts.

Moon Ate the Dark is a solo piano album that is not a solo piano album, from a solo piano artist who is not a solo piano artist.  The solo illusion is cast by attention to adornment, rather than to accompaniment.  Bailey brings out the best in Carter, but he’s no mere adjuster; without him, the album’s surfaces would lack lustre.  The duo achieves together what they could not do alone, justifying their collaboration in dark red tones.  (Richard Allen)

 



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