I often find myself staring into nothingness while listen to music. More often than not, it is because the music takes my imagination away from the moment and creates a world that cannot be seen by our eyes.
Now before you either commit me or agree with me, ask yourself, isn’t that the point of music?
Atlanta’s own Christopher Richardson and Shawn Moeckly seem to whole heartedly agree with this and have orchestrated an audibly cinematic experience that is well worth your time.
Though there have been associations in the past regarding them playing to some fashion of the White Stripes on acid, Cinema Novo is more directed at the kind of band that would have opened for Syd Barrett and crew at the UFO Club decades ago. The ambient, drifting audible vision, immersed in raw psychedelic power, explodes with noodley riffs and a tidal wave of sound. Or, if you like, it is a fantastic trip through a wormhole of musical time and space.
When I heard “Brazilian film influenced psychedelic rock,” my mind immediately went to Cobalt Blue or at least Prince Rupert’s Drops meets Carnival and I will admit I was wrong; thankfully I was wrong.
Cinema Novo’s self-titled debut doesn’t pack the in-your-face punch or sequenced Samba performed by bearded guitarist, most would expect from a heavy psychedelic rock duo. But where I expected these two to cruise toward heavy distorted, lingering chords, Richardson and Moeckly turn things around and race in a soundtrack-like direction. This changeup allows them to successfully breach the expected and lay down a five track story of pure originality.
Each of the five tracks compliments the other like they have been doing this for years. Their sound is rampaging rock that prowls the vast borders of psychedelic ambiance poised to strike and claim another shredding distorted, echoing chord when it shows itself; but bides its time by rolling forward with a rock swagger that is as appealing as it is fierce. In just five songs, Cinema Novo lifts you from the plain of reality and transports you to their world. And when everything falls silent, and the music stops, you wake up and realize over fifteen minutes has passed and you didn’t even know.
Math rock, cinema novo, prog rock. Generally speaking, my curiosity is piqued when artists get film all over my music. So when the self-titled EP by Cinema Novo dropped in my lap, I had to listen. And listen. And listen. Theirs was a sound that refused to be nailed down, one that frustrated an ear that attempted to be critical.
The premise was simple enough: the duo of guitarist Christopher Richardson and drummer Shawn Moeckly had put out an album described “progressive rock, frenzied punk, and jazz fusion… performed by the White Stripes on acid.” I think that does a disservice, mostly because I think had the White Stripes been on acid, they would still sound like the White Stripes. Cinema Novo are more math rock than they are 12-bar blues with an effects pedal. There are the trademark staccato drums, syncopation, lack of vocals, and furious riffs. Then things get interesting.
Add in another layer: film imagery. Now you’ve taken a static medium of music and added analog art over it. In between crashing sounds lie watery guitar interludes, surf rock riffs, cutaways to classic rock, keyboard loops and effects, as well as curious voices between “Copper Wires” and “Poppies and Petroleum.” The whole effect creates a dreamlike state, both sinister and surreal with its monstrous ferocity and expansive aural spectrum.
The EP lasts about 15 minutes, but in dream time, that can feel like both an eternity and the duration of a hummingbird’s heartbeat. In that time, you realize a lot of time and effort went into the creation of these 5 tracks. I hope that Cinema Novo can keep it up for future releases and that they can reach new depths of consciousness in their cinematic and mathematical sound. Until then, head over to their bandcamp page and dive into their unique sound.
What dreams may come…