Review- “Trans Martian Express”- Moonwood

trans martian expressreviewed by Michael Thomas

Pleasence Records has a bit of a reputation for releasing wonderfully weird pieces of music, from the one-man band of Sexy Merlin to the dark folk of Black Walls to the irreverence of Gay. One of the latest Pleasence releases adds to the varied roster a psych-improv duo called Moonwood.

While the duo has apparently spanned a wide range of sounds from their 14 (!!!) releases since 2009, Moonwood has landed in the realm of Krautrock for their latest offering, Trans Martian Express. It consists of seven songs, equaling over 40 minutes of music, and it’s music that should definitely get people moving.

The groove comes partially from the machine-like rhythm that comes out of focusing on Krautrock as one’s main source of musical inspiration. The music of Trans Martian Express ticks away like clockwork, but never as monotonous as watching a clock tick might be. The bass is very prominent in these songs, as are the drums that keep the time.

The intergalactic references are widespread in the titles, like “Trans Martian Disko” and “You Too Can Be a Kosmonaut.” The latter is a particularly catchy song, which introduces some soupy synths and later some cowbell (seriously, there can never be enough cowbell).

By the end of the album, the figurative machinery is heard as literal machinery; the final song, “Turbostar,” samples the actual sounds of cars whizzing by, and it’s very fitting that it’s one of the last songs the listener will hear. Trans Martian Express is like listening to a NASCAR race, only without the slowdowns, pit stops and occasional burnouts. Groovy.

Top Track: “You Too Can Be a Kosmonaut”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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