In modern art, it’s a fine thing to splash about in melancholy, but sometimes you just have to don your scuba gear and dive deep into pathos. (Hello, HBO’s “The Leftovers”!) If this is how you like your music, then get your long dark night of the soul on with the austere études of M. Craft. The Australian singer-songwriter has released Blood Moon, a singular album of morose music that achieves a strange kind of uplift for those who can handle it. Each track is based around M. Craft’s piano, which eschews carrying a conventional melody in favor of repeating languid figures — a recurring tone or sliver of arpeggiated notes — around which subtle, haunting strings and occasionally a delicate rhythm section build a minimalist soundtrack. Against this backdrop, gentle, multitracked vocals take the listener by the hand into beautiful vistas of universal sadness. Check out how this all sounds on M. Craft’s new single “Chemical Trails.”
M. Craft composed this album, his third, in a secluded cabin in California’s Mojave Desert, where he seems to have tuned in to the nocturnal mysteries of silent desert nights. As its title track further demonstrates, Blood Moon is so minimalist and methodical, it would almost be ambient music were it not for his penchant for la dramatique. (Seriously, filmmakers will want to grab this album right away for use on temp tracks in the editing room.) It’s not for everyone, but fans of Sufjan Steven’s stirring piano compositions or Philip Glass’s hypnotic solo work might want to gaze upon this moon.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs about the intersection of urban studies and popular music at musicalurbanism.org.