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Friday, 11 May 2012

Griff says; Encounter with the shadow - Luna Moth

Tonight we're having an encounter with the shadow. Prosaically, I'd simply like to introduce you to the latest release by long-time Streetlamp favourite's Luna Moth (see 'here' and 'here' previously), entitled 'Shadows Casting Trees'. More fancifully, as befits an album which is mythic in provenance and intent, I use the term to subliminally remind you of the work of CG Jung (for, surely, subliminally is how he'd like to be remembered). I'm thinking here of his concept of individuation - the journey of transformation which is the mystical heart of all spiritual change. What has this got to do with music?, you're probably thinking. Well, let me explain.

Luna Moth is a music/art collective based in Norman, Oklahoma and has been operating since 2003 under the direction of main operative Joey Paz (pictured above with unkown chicken). Prior to this latest album, Luna Moth has recorded 8 albums of material, ranging in sound from minimalist lo-fi folk, to traditional Mexican ballads, to noisy psychedelic garage rock. All of the previous Luna Moth albums are available for free listening and download from the cllct music collective. You can also find them on bandcamp where, if you are inclined to support independent music financially, they can be downloaded on a 'name your price' basis. The Luna Moth bandcamp page is where you will also find this newly released work.

But what has this got to do with Jung and individuation?, the impatient amongst you are, no doubt, already asking. Let us allow Joey to explain:

"Thematically, Shadows Casting Trees is a concept album in which the ancient epic poem 'Metamorphoses' by Ovid is superimposed onto the canvas of the past year of my life, which has been defined largely by the discovery of previously unknown territory of mind through shamanistic plant healing in the Peruvian Amazon and the subsequent recognition of unconditional love. The idea behind Shadows Casting Trees is boundaries and forms shifting, the juxtaposition of sea and sky, the interplay of shadow and light, cosmic paradigms reversing, the simple beauty of all things reverting to their source. 

Aaaaah, now do you see? It's about the journey of transformation which is the mystical heart of all spiritual change. It seems that Joey in his travels arond the Americas and through his political battles closer to home in Oklahoma, "the most ultra-conservative state in the conservative U.S.", has had something of a metamorphosis himself, such that the doors of perception have been not so much opened as flung wide. So, what effect does this have on the Luna Moth music? It's difficult to say, to be honest, the Luna Moth sound has always been so diverse and wide-ranging. I'll setle for saying that, in general, 'Shadows Casting Trees' has a heavier, rockier sound than much of Joey's other work. But that's not the whole picture here. While the pounding drum intro and reverbed, distorted guitars of opening track 'Trees Casting Shadows' create a  fierce and ominous introductory energy, the mood of the album ebbs and flows to allow profound changes in atmosphere and  vitality - as witnessed by the enigmatic, spooky country-music of 'Lupine Blooms Voluminous'. I've embedded both these tracks below to demonstrate:

Lyrically, Joey is tilling in the abstruse soil of symbolism here and it probably helps to be familiar with Metamorphoses. This is a book which has lain untouched on my own bookshelf for quite some time now - probably as a result of having it forced on me at a tender age by an over-enthusiastic teacher. Funnily enough, when I pulled it from the shelf the other night, in order to reaccquaint myself with it, it automatically fell open at the tale of Arachne's tapestry, something which I believe may be referenced in some of the songs. Now, what would old Jung have made of that co-incidence?

I mentioned earlier that Luna Moth is a music/art collective. The striking artwork for this latest album was designed in collaboration with Oklahoma artist Tiffany Nachelle Edwards. The music and visual art are symbiotically connected so that the lyrical themes of the album inspired the creation of the painting that would soon become the cover, and vice versa. Tiffany Nachelle Edwards is also responsible for the other artworks used throughout this piece. You can view much more of her work 'here'.


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