Sometimes during the course of listening to music with the intent to review it, it becomes apparent that what you are listening to just isn’t for you. It can be easy to want to simply hit eject, but the challenge of being taken out of some proverbial comfort zone can sometimes be a great way to discover new things, or at the very least challenge personal conceptions about what constitutes a “style” or sphere of music that I enjoy. I have found many great bands like this, and pushed my boundaries into styles and avenues I never thought I would travel down. When Lunar Cape’s record “Just Lunatics” came up in the review queue, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and what I ultimately got was a blend of styles that impressed with impassioned performances and general richness of sound but whose stylistic adherence also began to wear a bit thin by the time the record ends.
The main elements of the record also happen to be elements that aren’t really in my wheelhouse, namely psychedelia, jam-laden full band sections, and a general chilled-out vibe that pervades the entire record for better or worse. While the melodies that drive the albums 11 tracks are beautiful and even convey a worldly and sumptuous air of discovery in spots, such as in opener “Pink Slippers” and mid-album track “Chinese Road”, the overall impression the record leaves borders on easy-listening or even some mild New Age in spots. A reliance on woodwinds (namely the recorder) as a main melody delivery devices for much of the record further compounds this vibe. “Just Lunatics” is definitely a record that seems to strive for contemplation and relaxation over peaks and valleys, and in this sense the band pull off what they set out to achieve well.
Although an over-reliance on this laid-back vibe saw my personal musical attention span begin to wander a bit, the band has put in an objectively well played and produced record that is diverse in the world music it explores. Many disparate elements are brought into play, and the eclectic melding of psychedelic rock, light jazz, chilled out atmospherics and Celtic, Asian, and Eastern European folk elements create a musical landscape that varies tonally from track to track. Some songs even take on a soundtrack-like vibe and experimental or even Avant bent that can be pretty convincing and trans-formative when the disparate parts align properly. I just wish there were more opportunities in the dynamic that focused the world music elements in some different and more exciting ways.
As is, “Just Lunatics” is a record that is for a particular type of listener, and although that listener isn’t necessarily me, I can recognize the quality and musical value here even if I don’t fully embrace its idiosyncrasies. A stylistic mashup that can border on being a little too meandering at times, but ultimately contains enough melody and highly musical passages to stick out to the fan of instrumental world music and psychedelic rock.
- Pink Slippers
- Chinese Road
- Cat Bite
- Mouse Dirigible
- Southern Harbor
- The Realm of Sleep
- Cats the Captains