- Perhaps best known as the founder of the Root Strata label, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma has kept himself almost dizzyingly busy in his musical career. Whether recording under his own name or coordinating with artists like Grouper (as Raum), Arp (as the Alps) or with a rotating cast of collaborators as Tarantel, he's been central to projects that run the gamut from astral drone to lyrical post-rock. Now, for his first label-affiliated album since 2010's Love Is A Stream on Type, Cantu-Ledesma returns with A Year With 13 Moons.
This album is a result of Cantu-Ledesma finding himself at a sort of crossroads. When his marriage ended, he moved in with filmmaker Paul Clipson at the Headlands Center For The Arts near San Francisco. The experience let Cantu-Ledesma devote himself to these compositions in a very organic but time-intensive way. Recorded on reel-to-reel tape, the album uses synthesizer, drum machines, field recordings and electric guitar. The results, while not so far from Love Is A Stream, exude a confidence of composition and simple songwriting that's sometimes been missing in Cantu-Ledesma's past work. Stringing together dream pop touches, wall-of-sound shoegaze and poignant noise and drone passages, The Year with 13 Moons might best be described as an ambient pop album, one whose passages are knotted with keenly-crafted melodies.
With its cozy LinnDrum pattern and buzzing blurts of noise, "The Twins/Shadows" is the musical equivalent of staring at a cloud-hidden moon. "Pale Flower" and "Disappear" both use a similar drum pattern, curling electronic sounds and a slow, ascending guitar to create a strange and beautiful blur of sound. Opener "The Last Time I Saw Your Face" is blissful, droning guitar left to echo for over eight minutes. "Agate Beach" opens with the kind of grainy, wind-blast noise that Yellow Swans used to make before rippling into another of the album's distant guitar melodies. And yet for the melodic songcraft that dominates The Year with 13 Moons, Cantu-Ledesma closes the record on the wind-howl sounds and explosive, scattered noises of "Remains"—a clamorous finale for an album that finds Cantu-Ledesma orchestrating perhaps the most gorgeous ambience of his career so far.
01. The Last Time I Saw Your Face
02. Love After Love
04. Mirror Of Past & Future
06. Pale Flower
07. The Twins Shadows
08. Agate Beach
09. The Spree
10. Early Autumn
11. A Portrait Of You At Nico’s Grave, Grunewald, Berlin (for Bill K.)
13. Görlitzer Park
14. Along The Isar
15. At The End Of Spring