Everything about this group Whiskey Moon Face and its music on Formless Formsis quintessentially otherworldly from the name, conjuring a pock-marked lunar landscape to its music which is ethereally beautiful, a quivering, flambé-like apparition seemingly reflected in a musical landscape redolent of keening Celtic druid-like figures, masked musicians in Mardi Gras costume telling melodic stories and singing eloquent high and lonesome dirges and ballads without so much as a by-your-leave, but a million changes in phantasmagorical persona.
The character and fabulous textures of the core trio come from accordion and contrabass with an endless palette of colours from the woody timbre of the clarinet and the seductive conjuring of the saxophone. Once opening bars fade, and with a seemingly interminable intake of breath, the voice of Louisa Jones enters hauntingly stage left, as if from a place you least expect it to, waltzing into the spotlight, there to bewitch the listener with stories peopled with characters you would expect to meet only in the twilight of a carnival.
The music of Formless Forms is full of glinting lights (“Starlit Night”), mysterious depths (“Cold Waves Crest”), expectations, frustrations, hopes and doubts (“Dictionaries”), like the shattered shadows of a sinister, quasi-Mendelssohnian scherzo, glimpsed by moonlight in the back alleys of a New Orleans Mardi Gras. In sheer colour and variety, in the depth of its characterization and the exceptional range and refinement of Miss Jones’ vocalastics and the musicianship of Ewan Bleach and Dakota Jim, Whiskey Moon Face here imparts a power and tragic structure to the music of the children of a lesser god, which no amount of “bigness” (the route taken by more theatrical musicians) can achieve. All in all, a world of music evoked as few could even hope to try.
Track list – 1: Dictionaries; 2: Formless Forms; 3: Distant Song; 4: Dirty Fingernails; 5: Karolina; 6: Cold Waves Crest; 7: Russian Waltz; 8: Starlit Night; 9: Renia’s Waltz; 10: Wildest Rose; 11: Into the Heather
Personnel – Louisa Jones: vocals, accordion (1 – 8, 10), piano (11) and contrabass (9); Ewan Bleach: piano (2, 3), clarinet (5, 7 – 11) and saxophone (4, 6, 10); Dakota Jim Ydstie: contrabass (1 – 8, 10, 11), accordion (9) and vocals (1, 4, 9); with guests Will Scott: clarinet (2, 4, 11) and saxophone (3, 8); Maxim Tartakovskiy: trombone (3, 5); John Kelly: guitar (6, 8, 9, 11); Magic Mike Henry: cornet (11)
Released – 2018
Label – Northern Spy Records
Runtime – 47:23