Imaginative, unusual and muddy.
A small moon can, of course, be a Deathstar, a thought that surely couldn’t have escaped Sam Cantor who – of course – is the singer, guitarist and songwriter of Minor Moon. On this, the third Minor Moon release, Cantor has dealt with some demons – the break-up of a long relationship and an attempt to find understanding of what was going on in his life through therapy. This has shaped ‘Tethers’ to the extent that Cantor has put that experience into song through an imagined science fiction backdrop. That, at least, is what the release notes suggest is going on – and it does go some way to explain the disorientating soundscapes that populate ‘Tethers.’ As a whole the album then takes out on the form of a concept-driven prog-folk-rock release, but it’s not as simple as that. Periodically Sam Cantor closes down on his explanations – one may have a clear and upbeat chorus sandwiched between verses of the purest obscurification created by discontinuity of the verbage and our old friend, mumbling.
Which is a pity, because most of the time ‘Tethers‘ sounds great, with an intriguing interplay of instruments and intriguing imagery – as on ‘No Lightning Fix‘ where Canto finds himself wandering under purple skies on a stony shore where he glances his ghostly reflection in the water before stumbling across a sunken chest with a silvery door. This surely must mean something, but it’s easier to give in to the soaring guitar solo than to fight through to an understanding – and maybe that’s the point: this therapy isn’t going to fix Cantor that easily. We’ll revisit the silvery door later on anyway. ‘So Quiet‘ tends to underscore that thought, with Cantor singing along to an insistent beat “I’m still learning, I’m still learning…how to be.” ‘The First Time You Left Home‘ adds a visceral insight into Sam Cantor’s confusion contrasting the pain of first separation “the first time you left home you were naked slimy still attached / you didn’t have a single word to scream about that but sure as hell you screamed” with the current pain of being alone “you feel naked slimy still attached / you struggle to find the words to speak about where you’re at” before concluding “maybe nothing’s changed.”
Intriguing? Yes. Well played? Yes. Compelling? Only in parts. ‘Tethers‘ at times infuriates with its unwillingness to be clear – but maybe for Sam Cantor that’s the point he’s trying to make. Life, confusing and painful and hard to get a handle on.