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Moontwin - Symbols (self-released)

25 January 2024

It is a long time since I have stepped foot in Melanie Garside’s musical world, the last time she was under the pen, as it were, was in the form of her thoroughly enjoyable EP, Little Victories put out under her musical nom de plume, Maple Bee, but that was more years ago than I care to remember (checks notes…eight. Man, I am really out of the loop!)

The last five years or so have seen her as one half of Moontwin, a long-distance, UK-Bulgarian collaborative musical affair with XRaydio founder Zac Kuzmanov. Their latest single is “Symbols.” (Isn’t the modern world and the technology that drives it fantastic?)

“Symbols” is one of those songs that seems more about what isn’t there than what is. By that, I mean that although it is shot through with delicate musical strands – spacious picked acoustic guitars, fleeting psychedelic sonics, and Garside’s hushed and hazy vocals – it is what they build at the center of the song that defines it. Space. Atmosphere. Anticipation. Pathos.

It’s almost as if they are musically merely capturing a feeling or lost emotion with their gossamer musical threads, cocooning the natural sound of the world with a sonic frame of their own weaving. And while, of course, the song doesn’t exist without their own delicate constructs, neither would it have the same impact if it were overplayed, hiding those natural, half-hearted yet lush sounds that seem to pool and percolate in the spaces between the notes and beyond the music or trapped in the intake of breath between one lyrical line fading out and the next being ushered in.

Most modern music is overplayed. Fact! Maybe it is because artists have forgotten the art of less is more; perhaps they aren’t brave enough to stand by their own imagination and abilities, unwilling to stand vulnerable and unadorned before the listener. Here, Moontwin boils music down to its bare bones, then reduces it to its fundamental essence, and then even further until it feels only a suggestion of what music can be.

How much more vulnerable, brave, and brilliant can you get? How much more can you fly in the face of modern fads and fashion than this?