In ancient times, the blood moon carried great significance. Also known as the harvest moon or hunter’s moon, the blood moon was allegedly considered a boon for the hunting season—a time for our ancestors to fill their stores with game in anticipation for the harsh winter. It’s caused by a total lunar eclipse, where the moon is directly between the Earth and the Sun—hence the red hue. The blood moon can also have an apocalyptic connection due to its dramatic appearance.
Frore (Paul Casper) and Shane Morris have pooled their tribal-ambient talents in homage to this lunar oddity. Combining electronic ambiance, acoustic and synthetic percussion, and traditional instrumentation, Blood Moon is an album that aims to reflect the awe that ancient man must have felt upon beholding the moon awash in a veil of blood. Rather than focusing on the panic that must have been felt by many, the sound leans toward the reverential: cosmic drama rather than profound fear. It’s an interesting concept, especially when paired with flutes and strings that drift among the swelling keys and lightly pattering drums. It’s easy to imagine a tribe of hunters in the grip of their belief as they slink through crimson-tinged shadows on the track of their prey. However, these images faded quickly for me, as the album couldn’t quite maintain its initial draw on my ears and mind.
Blood Moon falls between ambient and soundtrack: too busy to slip completely into the background, but too static to actively engage. Part of this is due to the lengthy track times; each of the five offerings run past nine-and-a-half minutes, and three run beyond thirteen minutes. While the production is solid, the music simply doesn’t evolve once the initial mix is established, which often happens within the first couple of minutes. There’s clearly an element of trance at work, especially where the percussion is concerned, but the tracks are stretched a bit beyond their most effective length. The bit of insect-noise in “Unfolding” helps break things up and deepen the ambiance, though I wish Casper and Morris had included more field-recording elements as they would have increased the ancient feel they were going for.
“Night Rapture” finishes the album in fine fashion. The drumming is slower and more pronounced if not aggressive, resulting in a sharper primal atmosphere. The synths are more ominous; here, the mood moves away from Steve Roach and Robert Rich and closer to Herbst9 and This Morn’ Omina, but it’s nowhere near the alien ritual atmosphere of the former nor the cathartic rawness of the latter. At near sixteen-and-a-half minutes long, “Night Rapture” is easily the best track on Blood Moon. It seems like Morris and Casper indulged themselves a bit more here, and the results are heightened immersion and a deeper trance tendency. Unfortunately, it arrives a bit too late to save the album from a curious lack of distinction; it’s too long and repetitive in general, and struggles to leave a lasting impact. The concept is solid, but Blood Moon doesn’t quite achieve the ancient lunar awe it aims for.
01) Lichen Patterns
02) Ritual Sequence
05) Night Rapture