Split into two suites, Moonwood’s latest release, Desert Ghosts is a voyage through parallel terrains — in both the physical and metaphysical sense.
The first half of the album is an “Earthbound desert rock” trip through the Mojave Desert. Track one, “Trans Mojave Express” has a groovy rhythm section playing behind an ever so slightly varying synth progression while fuzzy layers of overtones and undertones paint the scenery passing by.
Basic song structure and melody remain intact throughout the first suite with some tracks sounding more or less the same as each other. Repetition and improvisation seem to find their own equilibrium from time to time: a core characteristic of the band’s krautrock roots. Most tracks are instrumental jamming platforms with monumental potential that allows the band to build up as much as they please for however long they wish. Occasionally a haunting, echoing couplet or verse drops by in the hypnotic voice of Jacqueline Noire, who’s also in charge of the lead synth.
The first suite has high speed action drawing attention to frontman Jakob Rehlinger’s expansive guitar and Luca Capone’s drums. The second half is nothing short of an interstellar road trip. The “Trans Arrakis Express” suite is named for the desert planet of Arrakis from Frank Herbert’s Dune, and its sound moves towards the mystic with tracks that strip the music to a minimalistic mixture of beat and melody. It’s a combination so natural that it turns into an excess of psychedelia — an attack on the conventional perception of time. Middle-Eastern instrumentation is most prominent on songs like “Ghola Dance” and “On the Funeral Plane.” It’s an element that brings a sense of comfort and familiarity to the travelling stranger passing through an unearthly terrain.
Moonwood forms a collusion between multiple influences in terms of their music, blending middle-eastern percussion and late 60’s German synth with utter subtlety.