By Hrayr Attarian
Sun Speak Moon Preach
Matt Gold – Guitar, bass, lap steel, analog synthesizer, harmonium
Nate Friedman – Drums and percussion
Dan Pierson – Wurlitzer, analog synthesizer
The instrumental duo of guitarist Matt Gold and percussionist Nate Friedman, known as Sun Speak, creates textured, mellifluous soundscapes that are complex and vibrant with measured spontaneity. On its fourth release, Moon Preach, keyboardist/composer Dan Pierson joins the group and contributes eerily dramatic sonic backdrops to the ten captivating originals.
A soft, otherworldly drone enhances the silence on the nocturnesque “Jagged Midnight.” Gold eloquently strums out the wistful melody while Friedman’s drums percolate and gallop with agility. Gold’s contemplative, twangy lines flow with hypnotic elegance and resonate against a sparse, harmonic background.
Most of the music is so cinematic that it could serve as an etude for soundtracks. For instance, the mystical “Quilt” starts off with an exchange between dense guitar chords and thundering drum beats that echo against buoyant synths. The repeating patterns evolve into a nostalgic and yearning interplay among the trio members, as the piece grows more intricate and multicolored with just the right amount of noise to give it a passionate edge.
Similarly, it is easy to conjure up different images while listening to, for instance, “Rubato.” It opens with quasi-baroque refrains that progress over rumbling drums—setting the expectant mood of a film. Gold’s blistering strings burst in with a dramatic flair, possibly signaling the climax of events. Then the collective performance mellows out, becoming lyrical and introspective—maybe demonstrating conflict resolution. The track concludes with serene romanticism as the “story” ends.
The trio’s inner synergy is remarkable and essential in crafting these mesmerizing tunes, the most intriguing of which is perhaps “Foxon.” Friedman’s angular, free-flowing percussion contrasts with Gold’s acerbic guitar. As the music takes off, fiery waves of notes flood over galloping drums and alternate with dissonant segments, thus resulting in a visceral and moving ambience.
Gold and Friedman together make, for lack of a better description, musical alchemy. This is truer on Moon Preach more so than their previous, equally superb, albums, thanks to Pierson’s sublime use of electric keyboards. This captivating work nurtures the imagination and moves the soul.