T.V. Sun by Mosses is certainly one of the most surreal, hallucinogenic records of the year…and likely of the last decade.
Mosses is just one of the many recent projects of multi-instrumentalist, Ryan Jewell. You may know of Jewell from providing dynamic drumming for the likes of Ryley Walker, Chris Forsyth and Elkhorn (to name but a few). Here, alongside Danette Bordenkircher and guests like John Allen, Meg Baird and Lisa Bella Donna, Jewell assembled a kaleidoscopic mosaic of a record out of countless unique little sounds, genres and textures. This is indeed a dizzying display of studio wizardry, and really, what more could you want from an album?
Jewell reportedly spent years sculpting the sound on this record from various pieces that he recorded and overdubbed in living rooms and bedrooms all over the country while on the road. This slowly-crafted collage approach is immediately apparent, as each song floats from style to style, splintered with many uniquely sourced instrumental and vocals tracks, all with varying production qualities and effects.
Take for instance “MSR.” The song begins with the fade out of Jewell’s banjo dulcimer from the previous track, as garbled and manipulated tape loops flicker and dance with hyper energy, while a crisp driving drum beat kicks in with a backing haze of organ drones. Next, Jewell’s multi-tracked vocals appear, sweetly harmonizing together before dueling synths and electric guitars erupt, steering the track into a delirious jam. What’s perhaps most sonically impressive in this song though, is that Jewell mans the drum kit you hear in the left stereo channel, while another drummer, Troy Kunkler, plays in the right. If that doesn’t hammer home the idea that this album is a handmade Frankenstein of sound, then I don’t know what will.
It also must be stated that Jewell’s ability to overtly construct songs out of a collection of disparate samples, without losing the music’s pop sensibilities, helps to give the album a Van Dyke Parks-produced John Lennon/Brian Wilson/Faust recording session vibe. It reminds us that this splice-and-dice aspect of psychedelic music has been there since the beginning of the genre, but has been sorely missing for some time. There are many moments here where the spirits of “I Am The Walrus,” Anthem of The Sun, and the patchwork pop of Elephant Six groups, like The Olivia Tremor Control, feel alive and well.
The amount of different voices, shades and emotions that Jewell is able to contain within this album, even within a single song, is simply astonishing. One moment, he’s able to invoke the sunny, delicate acid folk of artists like Oriental Sunshine and Mark Fry, and then he harnesses the fierce hallucinatory energy of heavy experimental rockers like Monster Magnet and Taj Mahal Travelers the next. Jewell’s fully diverse taste in music and his extremely wide versatility as a musician both seem to be completely unveiled here. If you have any doubt about that, just remember that in the liner notes, he has around 18 or so different instrument and effects credited under his name.
In just ten songs, Ryan Jewell proves himself to be one of the most daring jack-of-all-trades operating in the music world today. Preorder T.V. Sun ahead of its March 6th release date here.