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Moon X — The New Prometheus
(Bandcamp no#, 2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-06-04

The New Prometheus Cover art

When two members left Moon Men and the remaining members (Dave Newhouse and Jerry King) evolved into Moon X with the addition of drummer George Newhouse, there were bound to be some changes to their sound, and so it came to pass on the band’s second album — a lot of the, shall we say, non-serious elements of their music have been discarded in favor of a more pure and serious mix of progressive rock styles, comparable to the evolution that Soft Machine undertook between their first and third albums. There is still plenty of humor in their music, but it’s an integral element of the compositions and arrangements now, not extraneous funny business, and for me at least, their sound has become all the better for it. The personnel is pretty much the same from the first album: Dave Newhouse plays keyboards and all woodwinds, Jerry King handles bass, guitars and trombone, George Newhouse plays drums, and this time out, Michele King adds voice on two of the album’s eight cuts, which clearly adds a new dimension to their sound. Mixing and mastering is capably handled by Ian Beabout, and Eric Kearns again did the cover and graphics layout. While it makes sense to begin at the very beginning, I’m going to jump right into the middle of the album with “Hollow Man,” an exceptional seven-and-a-half minute slab of prog that’s actually two songs, the first half being a slow, dark and heavy progression that showcases some incisive guitar soloing supported by keyboards, bass, and drums, with a slight Middle-Eastern twist, then midway through that all stops and a brisk bass figure takes over the bottom end, evoking a far more jazzy feel with saxes, bass clarinet, and some beautiful wordless female vocals. The opener, “90 Mile Island,” is a snarly rocker with some superb drumming that leads it in a jazzy direction, succinct as it’s all over in a little over three minutes. Opening with a zany electronic riff that morphs into a funky jam, “Goblin” has the band firing on all cylinders throughout its duration, the sonic density with all the layers of guitars, saxes, horns, and electric piano over the ever-steady pace set by the bass and drums is at times mind boggling. If the howling synths and guitars of the jazzy Ratledge-esque title track don’t blow your mind, then maybe “She Light,” with its beautiful Asian sounding theme will certainly do the trick with its massed Jade Warrior like flutes, bari sax, and another spot for wordless female vocals in its final minutes. The album closer, “Solaria for Kuan Yin,” starts in a gentle space and wanders through some stunningly beautiful musical territory over its six minute duration. Not a dull moment to be found anywhere on The New Prometheus, and each listen reveals new secrets that you hadn’t noticed before.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Dave Newhouse (Manna / Mirage), Jerry King / Cloud over Jupiter, Moon X

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