Moonlit Sailor - Colors in Stereo
Record Label: Deep Elm Records
Release Date: June 8, 2011
I have noticed lately that for some strange reason post-rock tends to be associated with negative emotions: sadness, anger, destruction, et cetera, and it's something I've never understood. Perhaps it's just the fact that I very rarely apply emotion to lyricless music unless it comes naturally and I'm more apt to be drawn by raw beauty or energy instead of immediately resorting to emotional imagery to convey it. Unfairly or not, the general consensus seems to be that post-rock will forever be recognized as a depressing genre as a result of both the deliberately dark work from the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai, and the newer infusion of emo, a genre that has long been associated with the sentimentality of sadness. Who says post-rock has to be dark or sad? Can't its power simply be uplifting or relaxing to one's spirit? Why all the immediate negative associations merely because the work is passionately emotional? The most recent Moonlit Sailor album, Colors in Stereo, instills solidarity behind these challenging questions.
There are two essential changes that give Colors in Stereo its signature uplifting vibe. The first is a quite noticeably higher tempo compared to Moonlit Sailor's post-rock colleagues in each track. Songs like "May Day" and "Summer Solstice" best demonstrate this attribute, with the percussion masterfully written to create engaging rhythms while simultaneously driving the beautiful melodies that accompany it into a quick but controlled forward momentum. The second essential change is a shift in both choice of instrumentation and the use of that instrumentation. Much like The American Dollar, Moonlit Sailor uses higher ranged tones and gentle keys to create a fundamentally beautiful landscape. In this landscape frolic the rich and vibrant guitars derived from Moonlit Sailor's emo roots, both acoustic and electric. When joined by the percussion and accentuating tones and keys, they create a sense of childlike intrigue that runs deep throughout the album.
Another strange stereotype I've encountered is that the "happy" sort of uplifting music tends to be characterized as simplistic, and actually becomes very simplistic (I'm looking at you, Lights and Owl City) as a result. This might be because historically the more intricate musical movements have usually been coupled with a spirit of rebellion or frustration. As these movements have become more mainstream, it seems that many new artists have taken musical inspiration from them without sharing their intentions, instead taking a fundamental note from the 90s emo movement: seeking only to express their deepest thoughts through art, something that fortunately leaves huge amounts of room for individual interpretation by each listener. Colors in Stereo also affirms Moonlit Sailor as part of this newer, more sensitive branch of comparatively intricate songwriting. These intricacies come in no shortage throughout the album. Virtually every track has layered melodies amidst all the texturing that simultaneously keep part of the listener's attention while the rest is zoned out, creating a rather peculiar effect on the mind which is difficult to put into words. However, despite my inability to articulate it, I can say with certainty that it's cheerfully entertaining. The title track accomplishes this best, by recreating the dreamy ambient atmosphere coupled with sugary electronic melodies reminiscent of Mae's "Futuro (Live)".
So, why must post-rock be seen as emotionally negative by so many? I still don't know. At the end of the day, I suppose it simply comes down to individual interpretation. But such an interpretation isn't necessary, and that should be acknowledged even by those convinced of that interpretation. This is why something is needed that fundamentally challenges that interpretation without the need for additional reasoning, and Moonlit Sailor's Colors in Stereo fulfills that need marvelously. Be happy, people.