One of the great pleasures in music is just letting your eye dance along a shelf thinking what to play. Sometimes you notice stuff you’ve not seen for a while and decide to give it a spin. Rafael Toral was an artist I’d not listened to for quite some time for no particular reason. I picked it out and rediscovered his mid-’90s gems Sound Body Sound Mind and Wave Field, and then wondered where Toral was at these days.
The timing was fortunate: I stepped right into the brand-new Moon Field recording on Lawrence English’s beautiful Room40 label. It presents a trio of Ricardo Webbens on modular synths, Riccardo Dillon Wanke on electric piano, and Toral on electronic instruments.
In many ways, the taut, timed structure of Moon Field reminds me of the weirdly timetabled David Grubbs Act on Scene 5. Similar to that recording, Moon Field comprises three 15-minute-long tracks, and all share a loose improvisational quantity anchored around an atmosphere slowly punctuated by piano. The electric components vary from radio static, strange burbling, and occasionally to sounds that could well have been lifted straight out of some laser-cannon space battle.
What is beautiful is that the piece seems create a sense of landscape, a way of connecting these separate overlapping planes within one space. XYZ axes…
The Field, as you may expect, is the most earthbound and crisp-sounding. The Horizon introduces long sweeping drones that ebb and flow within silence. The Stars is more corroded, and feels bloated with twinkling transmissions in the night sky.
It’s not much of a stretch to picture the whole odd scene played out in sharply defined moonlight. A bridge between truly spacey jazz, ambience, and inquiry, Moon Field is a curious and thoroughly beautiful record.
Moon Field is available from Room40
Review orginally appeared in Brown Noise Unit December 2017