Mooncake is a Russian post-rock band founded in Moscow early 2006. Since then Mooncake has been permanently performing at top Moscow clubs and festivals, toured Russia and Ukraine, shared stage with such bands as God is an Astronaut, Explosions in the sky, Caspian, Russian circles and finally became the leader of Russian instrumental and post-rock music scene.
In five years time the band released three EPs and one full length album, which were warmly welcomed both by listeners and critics all over the world.
Zaris / Cast The Route is the newest Mooncake’s 4 songs’ EP that contains two records – Zaris (2010) and Cast The Route (2009) - and draws the musical contour of the band’s upcoming second album. TheSillentBallet.com - the largest resource on instrumental music – highly graded the band’s last efforts:
“Mooncake is taking a gi-fucking-normous step in the right direction by rebooting its self-titled track from More Oxygen with a newfound horn presence. <…> Couple this with the strings in "Zaris" and Cast the Route, and suddenly Mooncake has stitched together quite a fantastic EP. Someone should put this out on vinyl, because I want a copy.
After a successful debut album, Mooncake has released a single that points toward changes in the near future. I'm more excited about this band than I've ever been. Cast the Route witnesses a sophisticated band that has defeated its demons and seemingly nothing is standing in its way for a knockout sophomore album. Russia has long been waiting for a band to champion over its Western competition. In a few years time, Mooncake may be that band.”
Mooncake is sometimes compared to Pink Floyd or Mogwai but the band has made a name for itself having developed its own style and became quiet popular among connoisseurs of genre both home and abroad. Catchy melodies, atmosphere, the ideal balance between rapture and grief: all this has always been Mooncake's distinctive feature.
Caleidoscoop / Jan Willem Broek
A few times a year I am honored to review new releases of the prestigious Fluttery Records. Besides that they emerge as a label where experimentation and innovation is paramount, they are also the label of a global post-rock network which has the most amazing bands from many countries. Diamond Gloss (Portugal), Freedom Voyagers (Russia), Double Handsome Dragons (England), Ana Never (Serbia), The Seven Mile Journey (Denmark), Draff Kimmy (Norway), Marionette ID (Hungary) and En Plein Air (Italy) are some of the handful examples. They steadily built an impressive catalog. This is even more enhanced with the Russian Mooncake, now back with a mini CD Zaris / Cast The Road which brings together their recordings from 2009 and 2010, summarizes on a disk. In recent years they also released a full-length. With a guitarist, a bassist, a keyboardist / cellist and a drummer, they dive for years in an excellent way into the gaping hole that Godspeed You! Black Emperor has left. Their much smaller occupation, they made a lot sharper compositions, some of them are 10 minutes long. They bring here 4 pieces ranging from 3.5 to 10 minutes again beautifully built up. Dreamy post-rock in where the strings creates a wonderful melancholy. At times it is a great eruption continued with a nice dream. Besides the list above, you must also think of Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, Mono and sometimes the great echoing sound of Pink Floyd. Yet Mooncake is a unique sound, which in particular their ability to create a melancholy, all absorbing and unique also very catchy atmosphere. This may be only a minimum of 27 minutes, but it is one to cherish. Great band and great album as well.
No Ripcord / Mark Davison
What's in a band name? Quite a lot it seems, in the way of expectations. A mooncake may be a tasty Chinese pastry, but it's also a terrible thing to call your band, raising unpleasant images of a third-rate psychedelic/crusty band playing on Glastonbury's Avalon stage during a mid-90's afternoon, sometime before the Levellers are due on (and the track titles don't inspire much confidence either – isn't a Zaris a car?) So it was something of a relief to find out, when finally daring to press play, that Mooncake are a post-rock act. A particularly elegant one at that, quite possibly as a result of their adding a permanent cello player to the usual guitars, bass, drums, keyboard set-up (also, it turns out that they're Russian, which just about excuses the dodgy titles).
Unfortunately that makes them a bit of a bastard to review as, really, what is there left to say about post-rock that hasn't already been said? It's strange to think that to many ears in the late nineties this was the sound of the future, a bold and unique alternative to what had gone before. In reality it succumbed to cliché and formula far more quickly than even some of the most commercial pop music, and Mooncake are in no mind to break with the quiet/loud/quiet structures of their forebears.
Pieced together from a couple of previously released singles, the Zaris/Cast the Route EP, as you would expect, weaves together elements of all four of the genre's titans. There are occasional moments of guitar and cello interactions that recall Godspeed's Lift Yr Skinny Fists, elsewhere there are references to the crepuscular melancholy that Mogwai played around with on their final Chemikal Underground releases (which by extension means that the constantly creeping guitar patterns of Slint's Spiderland are also present and correct). For the most part though, the act they most resemble is Explosions in the Sky, thanks to the way that the guitar lines gently waltz around each other, describing vastness with a very delicate touch.
In other words, what Mooncake offer is epic, grandiose romance, the sort of romance that can't quite be captured with words, but instead is best evoked with delayed guitars, soft yet dextrous basslines and, in the case of Mooncake, a brass band playing in the next room. This is music for driving to late at night, contemplating the open road ahead. Or at least it would be if it lasted a bit longer – the four tracks range in length from 3 to 10 minutes, which, going by the genre's usual standards, is almost pleasantly concise.
The cynical could point out that what's on offer here has been done hundreds of times before, and that the production is weak in places (the drums do sound a little thin, particularly during Cast the Route's more dramatic moments). But then this is the sort of music that hits you in the heart rather than the head, and has been executed so lovingly that being cynical about it seems like a waste of time. It's a miniature gem of a record, and should be pretty much essential listening for anyone who has felt let down by the most recent Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky material.
It's a X Thing
Usually when someone strings words like instrumental, post and rock together I'm the sort of guy who runs to the hills begging for some band to provide a three chords and an attitude antidote, but sometimes, on a very rare occasion, I can get down with something a bit more ambient and find myself sinking into some music that will serve to fill the space around me, maybe smooth the hard edges of life out, sonically knead the tension out of my muscles leaving me feeling just that bit more relaxed.
Russia's Mooncake are the band that are doing that for me just now. They compose music that can sweep you along on a phantasmagorical journey. I can close my eyes and feel the music lift me, carry me forward over sweeping landscapes that roll out before me and into cities where I sense that I could reach out and touch the spires of glass cathedrals that have been etched out of crystal notes.
There's a keen sense of architecture to the compositions and huge edifices of sound can be found and explored as long as you can let yourself go. Mooncake through their music are giving you the keys to the doors of perception and it's up to you if you want to step over the threshold and let your imagination take flight. I'd advice that you do. There's a whole world out there that they can lead you to and it is a bright and positive as you can will it to be.