Review: Midnight Moodswings – The Surrogate Piano

There are prolific acts and then there are music collectives such as Pittsburgh’s Midnight Moodswings (AKA Radio For The Daydreamers) who seem to produce an album at six month intervals. These are not mini or standard-length albums either, most recordings last around the hour mark. Their last record (with Seiswork), the challenging, cinematic ‘The Dopamine Recursive’, required a fair amount of effort and investment and ‘The Surrogate Piano’ is not exactly a walk in the park either but there are welcome signs of humanity here.

Midnight Moodswings Album Cover

As expected, ‘The Elated’ doesn’t quite live up to its name since it’s partly constructed from austere percussion, beats and some distinctly elegiac piano, but when it’s combined with pastoral guitar and ghostly male/female, there is at least a suggestion of happiness. There then follows several tracks of darkness featuring the band”s trademark Rhodes. Once again, the number of genres covered is broad. ‘Indecent Mathematics’ and ‘Trapped In Reccurence’, with their trip-hop rhythms, recall the cool, Teutonic melodies of Tarwater; contrasting with the clanging, nightmarish sounds of ‘The Revolting Abstract’. Towards the end of the album, this enigmatic unit produces arguably the best performances of their career. Firstly, via the modern classical piece ‘Stay Awake’ then with complex, multi-layered arrangements for ‘Only You Can Heal’, ‘Everything Worth Waiting For’ and ‘Nocturnesque’.

Both Radio For The Daydreamers and Midnight Moodswings have always produced quality on their previous records but ‘The Surrogate Piano’ takes their talents one step further. Here, there are not only dark yet involving songs but also there are traces of emotions beneath the stern atmospherics. Those shades of light will surely serve the project well on future releases.

Web Sites:
Midnight Moodswings – The Surrogate Piano
Video of Midnight Moodswings – Only You Can Heal

Further Listening:
Tarwater, Mike Oldfield, Radio For The Daydreamers

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