Noir Records, 2005

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


It always makes me a little annoyed when we Americans get a clue later than anyone else (that seems to be going on a lot lately).

For example, let's talk about the American debut from Belgium's Lunascape, Reminiscence. Magnificent, ethereal vocals, a la Cocteau Twins; check. Great musicianship; check. Tight beats and cool sampling and loops; check. Attractive lead vocalist Kyoko Baertsoen; check. Why have we missed this band for eight years? Who do we have to smack upside the head?

Well, give credit to Noir Records for catching a clue. (They do that a lot lately; I'm beginning to like this label.) They have brought us a tasty sampling of Lunascape's work, and I look forward to more. The duo of Baertsoen and Walter Hilhorst create a transcendental, groove-laden pop music that is not to be missed.

Baertsoen credits Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins as an influence, and it's easy to see why; the layered vocals, enigmatic lyrics, and strong feminine nature to Lunascape's work is unmistakeable. Where Lunascape goes beyond the Cocteaus is in their ability to lay down a groove and stay grounded; while my exposure to them is admittedly limited, I don't recall ever having an urge to get up and dance to my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Pink Opaque. Lunascape, on the other hand, manages to strike a careful and well-produced balance between the aether and the ground.

The CD starts off with the powerful, thrumming "Mindstalking," which is currently working its way up the dance charts in a remix. It is rare a first song grabs you as hard as this one does; by the time you're thirty seconds into the track, you're transported into a world of shadows and smoke, Baertsoen's voice leading you down dark corridors. In a lot of ways, "Mindstalking" is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's "Intruder" or Kate Bush's "Watching You Without Me;" there is a faint edge to it, something that leaves you drained, unsettled, yet oddly content. I can't say enough about this track, except to say that yes, it's that damned good.

The rest of Reminiscence is as powerful. "Tears From The Moon" is brilliant, rich, and string-laden; it's no surprise that part of what brought Lunascape to international prominence is Sinead O'Connor's decision to cover this track with Rhys Fulber in Conjure One. "Lane Navachi" is a tour-de-force for Baertsoen's arching, ecstatic vocals. "State Of Mind" then turns around and goes funk, with a spoken-word intro and an almost R&B backbeat. "Yairo" is immensely danceable, with synthesizer that was giving me flashbacks to the Alan Parsons Project's "You Don't Believe;" funky electronic guitar laid over a throbbing drum line.

As a counterpoint, "Inferno" is almost a Gregorian chant; spare and simple, almost a cappella, at odds with the heat inherent in the track's title. "Severed Heart" is almost rock in its driving guitar, and "SOS Planet" closes the CD with delicate harmonies.

If I have one small disagreement with Reminiscence, it's that Noir has chosen to release a compilation rather than releasing the two European Lunascape CDs separately. While I understand the mentality behind the import compilation CD -- it's a quick snapshot of a band's work in an easy-to-buy format for American audiences -- I think that if you only have two CDs it's kind of a waste of time to boil them into one. (Unfortunately, 2002's Reflecting Seyelence and 2004's Mindstalking are only available as expensive imports.)

That niggling point aside, Lunascape is an incredible experience and a band to watch. Reminiscence is just the beginning of what I hope to be a wonderful and long career, and is definitely worth your time, money, and attention.

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Rating: A

User Rating: C



© 2005 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Noir Records, and is used for informational purposes only.