Daymoon is back, with a deep, emotional album in Cruz Quebrada, written for you in the hope that you will learn from the tragic experience described and make the most of your life ahead.
As lead vocalist Fred Lessing states: “The music on this album is intended to be listened to. It won’t work as background music. It won’t work if listened to in small bits”. You need to experience the album in its entirety, preferably in the peace and tranquillity within which it was meant to be appreciated.
The first part of the album was written shortly before and during the months following the death of Inês, Fred’s wife. The listener is privileged that Fred was willing to musically share the experience, despite the deep emotional feelings that he has.
The album opens with the sounds of people talking, a train and a ferryboat at Cruz Quebrada Beach, near Lisbon in Portugal. The sounds of seagulls, water, a passing storm and the surrounding world are abruptly interrupted by crashing drums, trumpet, and a powerful cacophony akin to The Beatles’ Revolution 9, just after Fred sings “Stop the World!”, his reflection on the morning he arrived at the hospital to find that his wife had passed away.
Melancholy keyboards take us from this opening scene, like the frames of a movie, to the second track, Fish Dissected, which opens with bass, strings and lead guitar filling the air. The music builds and expands to support the vocals and the rest of the story. Flute, recorders, reeds, keyboards and the rest of the band accompany the drums, bass, and lead electric guitar as Bruno Evangelista sings “In restless dreams of Egypt, nothing but the circle of my heart enclosed, in the warm womb of my mouth”. A powerful statement, and one of many in this deeply thoughtful piece of music. Evangelista captures the feeling of this song with passion as he sings “Stumble blind, and onward we plunge on with the globe, pinned painfully into the uncaring geography of life”, the powerful song climaxing with “As time hurts us to the bone”. Yes, an echo of The Dark Side of the Moon of course.
Where it Hurts Most changes the pace with delicate strings, violin and viola upon entry into the touching opening of this eternal wound. Lessing sings from the heart; “In the ultimate silence of the gathering dark. I molded my words and rephrased the past. Godlike, my love, the world you had shaped. We were all at your feet, we were all your feat”. Later in the track, Lessing sings, with a tinge of Roger Waters in his voice, “A thirst – ridden whirlwind of beggars we were. But now our house has grown still”. The power and stillness in this mournful track fills the air until the pace picks up with violin, the rest of the band building the fire. The power of the violin sounds eerily similar to Charlie Daniels’ famous duel with the devil in the famous track so many years ago.
Shipwreck is one of the best tracks of the first seven. It is full of multiple instruments and music that will take you back to a great blend of moody Pink Floyd and some of Roger Waters’ solo work, Lessing sounding much like Waters at times, the soft and luxurious keyboards that flow over this piece a wonderful reminder of music I grew up with. Lessing sings, “Three kinds of grief: for those who have drowned, and those who live on, and for myself. So I start anew now in the frozen wasteland. For time is seemingly endless”.
Whalebone opens with soft reeds, clarinet, and other woodwind instruments before Lessing sings “I look up from my Iris Murdoch novel into the fire – lit gloom. The whalebone on the mantelpiece that we found back in 1985, on a grey beach in late December, when the world belonged to me and you”. The slow, plodding bass, strings and keyboards capture the feeling of trying to rebuild a life devastated by the emotional loss of a loved one. The keyboard orchestration later inspires comparisons to some favourite progressive rock songs of the past. The lead electric solo and drum work which follow punctuate the power of this track.
Over the Cliff captures the desperation of living beyond someone you loved deeply. The deep, long, lead guitar strums leave you with the feeling of someone at the edge of trying to carry on, powerful guitar work and background spoken word helping to tell the story of this part of Lessing’s life.
At over 15-minutes, Thyme is full of excellent acoustic and electric guitars coupled with bells, soft lyrics and spoken word, closing out the emotional first half of the album. Evangelista sings “Summer is here again, without you, without you, within. The sky is wide, your eagle soars, the thyme on your grave’s taken roots”, beautifully warm acoustic guitar accompanying his soft vocal as he dreams of remembrance. Evangelista closes the track with “I will hold you, I will swirl you, I will spin you, I will raise you high. Dance with you, dance with me into the Light”. You can almost visualise the fireside as Rita Simões’ vocals join in the dance, the song closing with purpose.
Fred Lessing’s wife died of colon cancer. He urges all to heed the warning and take the necessary steps to test and help prevent the disease from taking anyone close to you.
Part two, The River, opens with The Mummy, a short interlude with background bells, village noises, and what sounds like Lessing singing outside, while playing acoustic guitar. Then the band hit us with the best part of The River, The Single Most Expensive Kiss in the World, which opens with Lessing’s harmonica solo and is followed by a visit to a strip club, the scene immediately bringing back memories of Steve Hackett’s Tigermoth, only Daymoon have their own way of handling a long journey through the desert to arrive at a spirited watering hole. Lessing’s vocals again bring comparison with Roger Waters’ wit and cynicism and, unlike Hackett’s piece, this place is full of happy people singing choruses in unison, talking and the chiming of glasses in toast taking you there.
The story has its own twisted ending before the band breaks into the nasty, IQ inspired synthesizer and lead guitar extravaganza of Headlong which also has elements of the opening of Hackett’s Tigermoth about it. The band is set free to unleash their creative prowess on this one. I, Abraham is another excellent combination of powerful lyrics and unbelievably fresh sounds and ideas. The flute mixes with powerful grinding axe, blues harp, keyboards, drums, bass, and much more. Ghost continues the journey in a more conventional way with guitars and drums blazing.
Severance and Down Falls opens with altered vocals from Lessing, almost echoed, and it sounds great. Then, Luca Calabrese’ trumpet makes for an excellent solo instrumental addition to the album. Indian White is full of wonderful acoustic guitar, and later flute and keyboards. Imagine floating down a river in a canoe through a canyon with beautiful scenery surrounding you as you play your acoustic guitar…and you’re there. The background looping at the end reminds me of the climax to Genesis’ In the Cage. Nice.
Onward ends the album with Lessing singing with acoustic guitar “I’ve crossed the river and lie panting. Next to you the pain is gone”. An almost Genesis feeling (Rapids) permeates this track, but with original lyrics and sound. Lessing’s daughters laugh and his new life can be heard echoing in the background.
This is an excellent album, one of Daymoon’s best. It really needs to be heard and I hope you take my advice and give it a chance. Cruz Quebrada has a little of everything.
[All proceeds from the album will go to pan-European colon cancer fighters Europacolon. Lessing says, “In the end, that’s the main reason why we recorded the album”.]
01. Cruz Quebrada (2:28)
02. Fish Dissected (5:45)
03. Where It Hurts Most (3:38)
04. Shipwreck (8:26)
05. Whalebone (8:07)
06. Over The Cliff (1:36)
07. Thyme (15:24)
08. The River (25:36)
– The Mummy (1:04)
– The Single-Most Expensive Kiss In History (3:59)
– Headlong (2:09)
– I, Abraham (4:33)
– Ghost (1:49)
– Severance & Down Falls (4:53)
– Indian White (5:02)
– Onward (2:05)
Total Time 71:00
Fred Lessing – Vocals, Electric, Acoustic & Bass Guitar, Flute, Baroque Recorder, Keyboards, Percussion, Angklung, African Xylophone, Blues Harp & Field Recordings
André Marques – Acoustic & Electronic Drums, Assorted Percussion, Keyboards, Vocals, Electric, Acoustic & Bass Guitars & Field Recordings
Bruno Evangelista – Vocals
Adriano Pereira – Clarinet
Paulo Chagas – Wind Instruments
Luca Calabrese – Trumpet
Nuno Flores – Viola & Violin
Thomas Olsson – Electric Guitar
Rita Simões – Vocals
Trevor Lever – Spoken Word
Simon Harris – Spoken Word
Record Label: Progressive Promotion Records
Country of Origin: Portugal
Date of Release: 24th February 2016