Instagram Soundcloud Spotify

Forget The Day – “moon” by Simon Raymonde’s new project Snowbird

Bella Union

Written by:

The name of this album is all about the circumstances behind its creation. Picture Simon Raymonde, formerly of the Cocteau Twins, sitting alone at a baby grand piano in his London flat. It is nighttime. He teases a melody out of the baby grand, fleshes it out a bit, and records it. He emails the file to Stephanie Dosen in North Carolina. Her voice is what the Greeks must have had in mind when they told tales of the sirens. One of the strongest tracks on this record is the aptly titled “Charming Birds from Trees.” An enchantress, yes. She adds a vocal track to the file Raymonde sent her and returns it to him. He wakes up in the morning, listens. Repeat this for the next twelve nights and, as Raymonde has stated, “after two weeks, we had the basis for what now makes up moon.

It is the songs that stay true to that ethos that make moon so captivating. The middle of this album is awash in that milky light, full of unencumbered pieces that find Dosen’s voice riding airily on the swell of Raymonde’s piano. “I hear you, and let down my hair,” she sings in the aforementioned “Charming Birds from Trees,” and it’s the perfect descriptor for this tune. Just settle in and let the serenade happen. Or “Porcelain,” the seventh track on the record, in which a wavering piano melody convinces Dosen that she is “spiraling down on this planet.” But even still it’s a gorgeous ride. The centerpiece of the record, though, is “Amelia.” It’s a darkly rich, minor chord-driven hypnotizer of a song, one that I had to listen to several times in a row the first time I heard moon. And it is also anchored heavily to the simplicity of this album’s genesis, to piano and voice. To the night.

snowbird live

There is another side to this album, though, a dayside which doesn’t quite work as well. The opening track, “I Heard the Owl Calling,” begins with an abbreviated cymbal beat and a distorted guitar, which then opens into a somewhat tangled synth-pop miasma. This is followed by “All Wishes Are Ghosts,” another song that just feels over-produced. Raymonde’s songwriting and Dosen’s voice get lost in the overly lush instrumentation.  Yes, sometimes that kind of production compliments a song, but here it’s like a moon gazing at noon. This was meant to be a late night album. Those piano pieces Raymonde composed in semi-darkness in his moon-glazed living room and emailed to Dosen, I would absolutely love to hear those demos. That is where this record belongs: in the contemplative stillness of the deep night. But, with some of these songs, a decision was made to bring them out into the traffic and bustle of the day. And one just doesn’t tend to notice the moon with so much going on.

Regardless, night after night since hearing this record, I still find myself coming back to it, to those songs that keep me rapt under a dark sky.