An obvious play on the phrase "stream of consciousness," this France-based collective of 11 musicians from Paris, London and Chicago (and nearly as many vocalists) swirl together free-form spoken words and electronics to create warm but stilted music on Strings of Consciousness' debut, Our Moon Is Full. Eschewing traditional rock instruments and electronic-music props in favor of violin, harp, trumpet, vibraphone, saxophone and clarinet, the ensemble performs in abstract sonic shadows, creating soundtracks to films that don't exist and aural scenery in front of aimless lives. Unexpected vocal effects (plus even a few lyrics) give opening track "Asphodel" a surreal charm, while "Crystallize It" leaves a caustic mark with jagged guitars and ragged vocals. Many tracks — "Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness" and "Sonic Glimpses," among them — teeter on the edge of beauty and despair with moody electronics and psychotic narration. "In Between" follows a similar pattern, but with the collective chiming in near the midway point to create a fuller sound spectrum that Strings of Consciousness could better utilize next time. Likewise, the 10-minute, ultra-ambient "While the Sun Burns Out Another Sun" never gets off the ground until an exceptional denouement when a guitar — yes, a guitar, thank goodness — lifts the song to a higher level.
After the music evaporates, 49 and a half minutes after it began, Our Moon Is Full has unsettled, enlightened, maddened and soothed — often all at once. Whether you'll need to hear it again, though, is another matter...
2) Crystallize It
3) Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness
4) Sonic Glimpses
6) While the Sun Burns Out Another Sun
7) In Between
8) Midnight Moonbeams