Jenny Moore is a prolific musician who has been in and around London’s DIY scene for several years now, previously being a member of the (still) excellent Bas Jan and currently also in the percussive post punk three piece Charismatic Megafauna, who also released a fine album this year. Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business, although sharing Charismatic Megafauna’s strong leaning towards percussion, is an altogether different proposition.
For this album Moore assembled a 10 piece choir and percussive orchestra to sing hypnotic harmonies and rounds.
This all feels very carefully considered and crafted, sometimes to quite spectacular effect. Opening track Mystic Business starts almost like a religious chant. You could be forgiven for almost thinking there was a cult at play here! There are some religious undertones to the lyrics that add to this, but this doesn’t necessarily suggest a religious stance. The opening lines are set to a constant waltz beat with other scattered percussion adding to the trance like feeling created. Half way through the song takes off into a phenomenal round which, in places, recalls Animal Collective’s We Tigers.
A soulful vocal line leads each turn of phrase, acting as the catalyst for a rhythmic shift.Tear Things Up revolves around a metronomic xylophone note. The opening chant “We tear things up when we go around…” repeats for over two minutes before quite literally being torn up in to a round. Eventually the word “round” is sung alone in a round, the lyrics throughout reflecting the form of the song.
The mood of this piece has echoes of the brilliant French pseudo-Japanese choir Yamasuki.
Sandwiches is the closest the group comes to sounding like the aforementioned Charismatic Megafauna. This is far more percussion heavy and a well time shift up in tempo, which refreshes the audience’s attention. The vocal theme about wanting to do nothing is an interesting juxtaposition with the group becoming perhaps their most active.Body is waves of vocal non-words for two minutes before a simple drum line joins. This is the first track on the album that doesn’t have a lyrical theme, at least that’s what we think it will be until the last minute when we hear the line “We made proposals to the extra-terrestrials. Get us out of here!”
Possibly a rumination on the chaotic, confusing mess of a world we now find ourselves living in. The Internet is perhaps the strangest lyrical venture here, about growing a tentacle or two “one for my aperol spritz, one for my drumstick” and internet clickbait. Moore solos the vocal here, over a minimal two note chime. This sounds the most spontaneous song on the album.
Flashbacks is built around what sounds like xylophone, vibraphone and glockenspiel lines intertwining, Moore vocally soloing for the most part before the choir joins and Moore adlibs about choral music.
The song has several movements – the mood, despite the song being played by only one or two instruments, shifting throughout the song.
We Want Our Bodies Back brings the full choir back into play, once again refreshing the audience’s attention. Singing to a stamp-clapped beat. This is the most organic track on the album. You almost forget that for the most part (other than a little xylophone) there is no instrumentation here that isn’t created by the human body.
It’s simple but impressive. Closer Come and Go introduces a slow revolving synth line, Moore once again returning to solo singing, repeating phrases with varying intonation, the synths build and bubble before winding down. It’s a gentle ending to what is quite a journey of an album.
You may enjoy this if you like: Joanna Newsom, Julia Holter, Charismatic Megafauna, Bamboo, Yamasuki