Words: Dominic Valvona
Released 27th May 2016.
In a musical world in which science meets the dreamers, the Brighton-based Moulettes go all out to impress with their magical and most expansively ambitious suite yet, Preternatural. Moving away ‘slightly’ from the alternative folk and pop rock template they have nurtured so well in the past, the richly diverse multi-instrumental ensemble go all out on with a grandiose pomp rock and R&B operatic love song to the Earth and Cosmos.
Envisaged as a loose concept by lead singer Hannah Miller after reading an article in the New Scientist, this new found fascination for the ‘preternatural’ has inspired loftier, more cerebral themes and a music accompaniment that moves like liquid through an eclectic mix of influences, from Zappa to Janelle Monáe.
Transported to, through and beneath mother earth, there’s reawakened leviathans from a permafrost on the opening R&B stage production meets anthem strident heavy rock ‘Behemooth’, a rhyming couplet synesthesia to the strange camouflage turn psychedelic lightshow emitting Octopus-chameleons, on ‘Underwater Painter’, a Neon Neon iridescent synth pop style, electronic tom fills plaintive warning about the disappearing ‘Coral’, and in the same year that the greatest naturalist of modern times Sir David Attenborough reaches his 90th , his recent groundbreaking footage of the Japanese mandala-making Pufferfish has inspired the underwater electro ballad style requiem ‘Pufferfish Love’.
Verging on both the operatic and cinematic scales, soaring at times into the ethereal and dreamlike echelons of space, the cornucopia of earth is connected to almost to something supernatural. Beautifully sung and played throughout, the production crisp, these love songs to the planet and animal kingdom float off, untethered by gravity, into the ether. There are however occasions when the epic sweeps and mix of R&B, rock and pop sometimes lapse into less interesting dynamics, and occasionally sound bland against the opening ambitious brilliance of the album’s first quarter.
Expanding beyond introspective concerns, the Moulettes produce a paean, an augur and a wonderful odyssey to life, the universe and everything.