Album Review: Black Wing – No Moon

[The Flenser; 2020]

The mastermind behind such projects as Have A Nice Life and Giles Corey – Dan Barrett – has turned his attention to his other project, Black Wing. No Moon is the sophomore effort under the pseudonym – one that he adopted as counterpart to his initially ‘all acoustic’ Giles Corey act. As Black Wing, Barrett releases electronic music that bears the gloom, darkness and heaviness of Have A Nice Life, albeit conveyed through electronic instruments. This project flew a bit under the radar with its first release in 2015’s …Is Doomed – at least in comparison to the way Have A Nice Life took off. No Moon, then, in terms of sound, is certainly a step away from the first record, but doubts ought to be raised about whether it’s the right direction.

Naturally, it is most preferable outcome is that an artist progresses in all things musical: sound, lyrics, production, etc. However, not all change is progress, and Dan Barrett’s efforts with No Moon are more often ‘change’ than they ‘progress’. This second album is a sort of a reinvention; the moodiness of …Is Doomed remains, but it is conveyed differently – and that difference is not necessarily positive.

Barrett stated in regard to No Moon: “Quarantine was profoundly isolating. With writing this record, more than anything I just wanted to prove to myself that I could make something out of it.” And that ‘seeing if I could make something’ atmosphere is precisely what the record radiates with. It seems like it’s trying to prove something as opposed to sincerely expressing the artist’s inner side.

This desire to prove something certainly took its toll on the record. Ironically, even with slow paced and drawn out compositions, the album seems rushed. Perhaps an explanation for this is the fact that, although this record has been in the making for the last few years, half of the songs were penned over the last several months. It is not enough for a record to be moody and depressing to match the creator’s own emotions — these feelings must be evoked in the listener for it to be a success. This is a task that No Moon is not necessarily successful in.

No song on the album is particularly memorable. If even a single track made the listener feel what the artist felt while making it (as subjective as such experiences translate), it would make an impression; at the very least it would make one remember the title of the given song. The only reason I remembered a couple of the tracks on No Moon were: the eye-catching names, like “Choir of Assholes” or “Is This Real Life, Jesus Christ”. Unfortunately, the music itself does not hold a candle to these promising titles.