Review: Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon - The Trees, The Sea in a Lunar Stream (2010)


artist: Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon
release: The Trees, The Sea in a Lunar Stream
format: CD
year of release: 2010
label: Rus­ted Rail
dur­a­tion: 49:55

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

It’s been six years since the release of the first album by Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon on Deser­ted Vil­lage in 2004. There is little sur­prise for me that this fol­low up charts a sig­ni­fic­ant growth in the project’s music. The recruit­ment of Scott McLaugh­lin as a per­man­ent second band mem­ber has cer­tainly con­trib­uted to this, as the ghostly and dark singer/songwriter folk has been enriched with a broader instru­mentarium and more var­ied com­pos­i­tions.

This is show­cased per­fectly in the first four tracks. “As Per­ceived by Mice” lays a nice flow­ing base with piano and gui­tar, and Aaron Hur­ley’s trade­mark high voice, still pleas­antly remin­is­cent of Thom Yorke here and there. The beau­ti­ful “Poems” is very intim­ate and subtle, weav­ing soft gui­tar lines with swoop­ing cello and del­ic­ate touches of glock­en­spiel and music box. “Steal­ing Owls” and “Hide and Seek” intro­duce Barry Hur­ley on drums, lend­ing these tracks a stronger rhythmic touch, bor­der­ing on subtle psych rock here and there, par­tic­u­larly in the last track’s harp­si­chord sec­tions.

The second half of the album holds more good things; The fifth and sev­enth track are simple and styl­ish gui­tar songs in the band’s ori­ginal vein, while “A Shim­mer­ing Clown” is a darkly beau­ti­ful sound­scape with dis­tant, sor­row­ful vocals. The closer, “Hal­loween”, is equally excel­lent, with a superb devel­op­ment and crash­ing rock end­ing.

The edges are rough, which can be expec­ted from an under­ground pro­ject like this. But look past that, and you’ve got a beau­ti­ful, hon­est and highly ori­ginal album, lov­ingly released and hand­made by Rus­ted Rail. Another gem from Ire­land, highly recom­men­ded to dark folk lov­ers.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. As Per­ceived By Mice (5:17)
2. Poems (6:28)
3. Steal­ing Owls (5:51)
4. Hide And Seek (6:29)
5. Ellipse Of A Forest Walk (3:38)
6. A Shim­mer­ing Clown (7:29)
7. Two Hours After Dusk (5:37)
8. Hal­loween (9:06)