Black Moth Super Rainbow: Introduction and Falling Through A FieldIntroduction
Black Moth Super Rainbow are an experimental group from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are known for primarily making their music with analog electronic instruments. Vocalist Tobacco and former bassist Power-Pill Fist *
both have multiple solo albums, so I might write about those separately at a later time. Also, I guess I am officially infringing on Zudak
Falling Through A Field
Their debut under the Black Moth Super Rainbow name is apparently mostly songs they previously recorded under the name satanstompingcaterpillars. Their trademark sound is pretty much fully formed here though, if perhaps a bit more lo-fi than usual. The Rhodes piano, mellotron, and primitive drum loops that form the center of their sound are all there, as is their tendency to deliberately make songs sound a bit like a warped record: think of Boards of Canada
mixed with woozy psychedelic pop.
I said that this album "pretty much" has their trademark sound mainly because of one very notable exception: Later on, they'd use a vocoder on vocals almost exclusively, and here that's frequently not the case. While vocoder does get used prominently here, just as often Tobacco is heard singing without any effects aside from some distortion, and it can be pretty surprising to hear what he actually sounds like if you're hearing this after, say, Dandelion Gum
. The songs that feature Tobacco's natural voice may actually be creepier than the vocoder ones: He's using what could be considered an extreme version of Perishing Alt Rock Voice
, singing everything in a very monotone hoarse whisper that makes it sound like he's barely able to breathe. Coupled with the mellow and zeerusty
but still eerie music, it starts sounding like a deathly ill man lying in bed all day while the television plays 70's nature documentaries, trying to comfort himself by making up his own lyrics and vocal melodies to the score, despite the fact that it hurts to speak.
Another difference is that occasionally songs will based around clean or acoustic guitar, although even then the recording is sparse enough to fit the overall aesthetic: One of the most strangely affecting moments is "Melody for Color Spectrum", which features two heavily flanged acoustic guitars, an even more flanged electric guitar, and Tobacco wordlessly singing along with the lead guitar melody in that weary, head-cold voice I spoke of.
I might not recommend this as a starting point, because it's a pretty homemade sounding record, but then again if you're already into this band and haven't heard this one yet, the homemade-ness would probably be part of the appeal. The 2007 reissue adds six bonus tracks: while "Melody for Color Spectrum" makes for a much more fitting ending than the demented Speak And Spell melody of "Yourteethandface (Marching Along)", for the most part these tracks are as good as anything on the album proper.
Vietcaterpillar, Dandelion Graves, Melody For Color Spectrum