Moonface: Playing on Prefix

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Playing on Prefix is a feature on KCRW’s Music Blog in which writers from the eclectic music site Prefix hip you to what’s coming out of their computer speakers each week.

Who would have thought that one of this year’s most ambitious LPs would be done by just a guy using his voice and an old organ?

But here we are with “Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped”, the debut LP from Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown/Swan Lake man Spencer Krug’s Moonface project.

As the title suggests, Krug says he didn’t intend for the album to turn out the way it did, recording it after Wolf Parade went on “indefinite hiatus.” He apparently never planned to make an album of five songs that sound like epic meltdowns of a Super Nintendo console mid-game, and he never planned for those five songs to go on for close to 40 minutes. But when the results are like “Shit-Hawk In The Snow”, who cares about what was planned?

Krug has long had an M.O. as the “experimental” quadrant of Wolf Parade, that he wished they’d be making David Bowie Berlin-era albums, or something. I’m not willing to throw Dan Boeckner under the bus—his own band, Handsome Furs, have done some interesting things with synths and guitar textures—but his work in Moonface certainly paints Krug as more willing to expand the strictures of what experimental pop can be rather than adhere to them.

Krug’s decision to play the organ by himself, and not invite anyone else in for the proceedings, leads Organ Music to be the most psyche-delving album of his career, a stream of consciousness experiment in building monolithic pop songs.

That said, Organ Music is arguably the least listener friendly album Krug has made to date — and this is from a guy who has made multiple albums where he trades kaleidoscopic, broken glass songs with Carey Mercer and Dan Bejar.

It’s a hard sell after all: It’s not like there’s an “I’ll Believe In Anything” here, or an “Idiot Heart,” for that matter.

But if you’re willing to follow Krug on his latest sonic diversion, it becomes clear that this guy is on a different playing field, willing to stretch himself—and his fans expectations—in a way that few indie rock titans do anymore.

He might not ever rejoin with his bandmates in Wolf Parade, but when he’s doing stuff like Organ Music, who cares?

— by Andrew Winistorfer