In Happyland, kids and adults alike have to go through mandatory entertainment classes in funhouses and are taught to avoid anything serious and academic in nature like humans avoid AIDS on Earth. Most of our entertainment here is space-shuttled in from Earth and stolen from the bedrooms of human toddlers while they are sleeping, and our entire culture and societal order is based around it. I guess that’s why all of our teachers wear purple dinosaur costumes and we all didn’t know Dora the Explorer couldn’t really hear us through the television screen until we hit retirement age.
So, one of the most nostalgic forms of entertainment I had from my not-too-long-ago childhood was the art of performing yo-yo tricks, but while it was really fun, it was also the most frustrating form of entertainment I ever had as a Happyland kid. While playing with Power Ranger robot toys and Tamiya racing cars were no-brainers and easy peasy, trying to perform some advanced yo-yo tricks really got me spouting insanely vulgar words such as “stupid” and “idiot” (and earned me some rear spanking). In particular, the “Loop the loop” and “Shoot the moon” tricks were and still are difficult to perform to me, and whenever each of these two tricks goes wrong, you could easily get hit on either your chest or head.
Apart from giving me a pun-tastic excuse to come up with the above anecdote, Moonloop doesn’t just literally remind me of my yo-yo past, but sonically reminds me of the process over which one learns (or, in my case, tried/tries to learn) an advanced yo-yo trick: an experience filled with determination to grasp the mechanics at first, but which slowly dissolves into a state of uncertainty as to what the whole idea behind it is anyway. Just like how I once happily swung the yo-yo up into the air for the millionth time, attempting “Shoot the moon” again, and got a forehead bruise in return which rattled my brain wonky and got me thinking how illogical it was for a spinning yo-yo to really try and punch through the rock-solid Moon at the speed of a kilometer or two per second, cruising through this sophomore full-length album from Spain’s nature-loving Moonloop is nothing short of a fun yet perplexing experience.
First impressions from the sophisticated-looking, post-modern-ish cover art made me think Moonloop was just going to be another djent or melodic death metal band, but what the heck! I certainly did not see that progressive death metal thing coming. It’s as technical as it is progressive as well, somewhat giving the instrumentals an Obscura flavor to them, and just when you thought the vocals are going to be those gruff and boring-as-hell growls throughout, your cynical ears encounter frequent clean singing that is utilized alongside tranquil guitar strumming sections with light drumming (as heard in “Wailing Road” for example) and are forced to convey to your brain that… what? It reminds you of Damnation-era Opeth now? Daaaamn, that was the yo-yo bump on the forehead for me.
The constant shift between rough, modern-sounding death metal and peaceful, progressive rock moments fits Moonloop’s lyrical mysticism and cover art well, but it is slightly overdone in my book. Musical eclecticism fits bands who know how to have fun (like the lovably wacky Kontrust!) really well because eclecticism is generally at its very best when the subject has a few screws loose, but for sane people like Moonloop who obviously have important messages about preserving nature and loving Earth, even this minimal amount of musical eclecticism should be used with restrain in order to keep the imagery conjured in the listener’s head focused—and not blurry due to interference from additional attention being diverted away to be paid on the musical stylistic changes to and fro. For bands whose albums tend to have one philosophical-sounding, coherent theme in place, it is better to be as stylistically consistent as possible. That’s what I have learnt from listening to albums such as Opeth’s Damnation and Obscura’s Omnivium.
This isn’t a bad record, but it won’t be receiving extra spins in the Happy Stereo ever. One thing good that came out of it, though, was the desire to crack out the good ol’ yo-yo and give it a spin instead! Welp, time for me to loop the moon and shoot the loop! Err… I mean moon the loop and loop the shoot! Wait, err… I got this. It’s time to moon the shoot and loop the loop! Gargh, close enough.