Originally published December 18, 2012. I'm moving the band page forward to celebrate their latest release, as well as call attention to their first 2 great albums. This is a group I recommend to all, and is easy to get into.
Moonwagon - Night Dust. 2011 Twilight Works (CD)
Moonwagon - Foyers of the Future. 2012 Presence (CD)
Moonwagon - The Rule of Three. 2015 Presence (CD)
Moonwagon are yet another instrumental band from Finland that was smitten with the Ozric Tentacles sound, similar to Hidria Spacefolk, Taipuva Luotisuora, and Dasputnik. So where does Moonwagon fit in all of this? Beyond the usual guitar rave-ups and hyper rhythms, Moonwagon offer five distinct qualities that endear them to my tastes, at the very least: A concentration on melody; bluesy electric guitar solos; copious use of acoustic guitar; spatial keyboards/synthesizers (including some fat analog sounds); and a thick / woody bass guitar that drives the music forward. Music like this is timeless: Complex, memorable, energetic, and heck of a lot of fun. Can't go wrong here, especially if you're a fan of the prior bands mentioned.
----Foyers of the Future
For their followup Foyers of the Future, it appears Moonwagon are consciously moving away from their Ozric Tentacles roots, and trying their hand at slower, more melodic music - citing perhaps the influence of a group such as the Future Kings of England. 'Elsewhere' opens the album with a Pink Floyd styled atmospheric rock number. This is followed by two rave-ups 'New World Warrior' and 'Dawnwind' that recall "Night Dust", and it would seem Moonwagon are off to the races. But from track 4 on, they put on the breaks and the focus is more on melody and atmosphere, rather than rhythms and pyrotechnics. I think I prefer the former style, but it will be interesting to see where Moonwagon goes from here.
----The Rule of Three
The Rule of Three, is appropriately enough, Moonwagon's 3rd album. Picking right up from Foyers of the Future, the album starts off more geared towards broad strokes and atmospheric space rock. This goes on for the opening 3 tracks, with 'The Infinite Pattern' being the highlight with its strong melodic content and various meter changes. 'Run to the Sun' recalls the 90s neo psych movement, and is the only track to feature vocals (in English). 'Skylines at Night' seems almost like a homage to the late 70s French and German guitar oriented electronic scene, with soaring guitar leads, steady beats, and a heavy synthesizer presence, perhaps like Christian Boule's Photo Musik, for example. This leads to the final epic track, where we get the payoff for the time invested. Mostly an old school early 1970s Kosmische Kouriere trip with echoed electric piano, scattered drums, acid guitar leads, and moody synthesizers. The mid section follows - but more towards the jumpy Quantum Fantay variety of Ozric Tentacles, and finally finishes with an almost Zeuhl like bass riff with atmospheric Rhodes electric piano over the top. Not like anything else I've heard prior, though still quite familiar. Superb. A new direction for the band perhaps? We can hope.