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.
The newest Acoustic DVD is a live Mooncake’s show performed on Rain TV. The video contains five tracks in pretty new acoustic arrangements. The release is available through Fluttery Records not only in DVD format, but in CD Audio and digital as well.
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.
A Closer Listen / Richard Allen
In many parts of the world, post-rock is either dead, dying, or unnoticed. Not so in Russia, where the scene is flourishing. The release of an acoustic album is a sure sign that a band is doing well; even more so is a packaged release. Acoustic, which was recorded live on Rain TV, is available in digital, CD, DVD and combo formats. Not all of the selections needed to be acoustic – the majestic “Turquoise” already leaned that way – but the newly-arranged tracks highlight the nuances of the compositions. Oddly enough, while the original “Turquoise” is superior due to its semi-acoustic nature, the acoustic “Nine Billion Names” flips the script from thick to thin and ends up as an improvement. The ups and downs of “Mandarin”and “Zaris” are preserved even without the electric sheen, while the excesses of “Novoroslysk 1968″ are toned down. Perhaps part of the reason for the EP’s effectiveness is that while post-rock too often tends to seem dated, the timeframe of an acoustic guitar riff is difficult to pinpoint. This makes the new versions at times seem a lot newer than the originals, and perhaps more enduring. More post-rock artists should try this.
MRU / Claire Kane
Mooncake are a wonderful post-rock band hailing from Russia, and to fill the gap between their next studio album release this year, they have released a CD/DVD of their live performance on Rain TV, entitled ‘Acoustic’.
The five track CD is delightful to say the least. Each number is lyric-free, yet it conveys perfectly the intended emotion, which is aural proof of Mooncake’s talent. For example opening track ‘Zaris’ has, at the beginning, a sullen air about it, before building up to a peak which says, “it’s not so bad after all”. While ‘Novorossiysk 1968’ has a more emotional element, with the Cello sound pulling on the listeners’ heart strings, it conjures up feelings of regret. The five track offering is very easy to listen to and while it will not, by any means, be a commercial success, it is likely to become a favourite among those who appreciate music in its most raw form. Certainly one for the “relaxing” playlists on the music player of your choice as it is both calming and uplifting from track to track. Highly recommended for any music-lover’s collection.
The Silent Ballet / Yakob Olesky
Whichever Mooncake happens to be is under investigation. What I can report is that Acoustic is a magical set of five tracks that should leave the listener impressed with the band’s songwriting, for those who were not already. The mini-album/DVD selects “Zaris” and “Turquoise” from last year’s EP and three tracks from 2008’s Lagrange Points (“Nine Billion Names … (to A. Clarke),” “Mandarin,” and “Novorossiysk 1968”). It’s a bit of a let down that no new material is featured here, but the tracks themselves are different enough that it is almost like hearing everything for the first time (again). Arguably, Mooncake is a pretty good candidate to pull this kind of thing off, as it is a band that hasn’t relied too heavily on fancy sound effects and has progressed over the years to focus more on instrumental interplay instead of blowing out the audience with forceful walls of sound. As a result, it’s not surprising that “Turquoise” and “Zaris” are the more powerful tracks here; they’re the most recent additions to Mooncake’s repertoire and the most easily extendable to the acoustic format. The tracks from Lagrange Points get stripped down a little more, but what’s left is still a beautiful foundation. Mooncake also hasn’t really monkeyed around with the core of the tracks either. It would be one thing to take a post-rock song and create an acoustic track that resembled it, refashioning it to work within the format, but Mooncake avoids the temptation to overhaul past works and just lets the music speak for itself.
Whether or not Mooncake will have any big collaborations in the future is uncertain. However, seeing as how the band is arguably Russia’s best export, maybe we could hope for a meeting of the minds with Poland’s New Century Classics or Finland’s Magyar Posse. I probably won’t hold my breath.
Against The Odds / Chris Antonoff
Mooncake is a Russian post-rock band which I’m told is pretty popular over there. Formed in early 2006 the band quickly established itself as a prominent instrumental act in Russia. The band have extensively toured throughout Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic countries and even China. So far they’ve released one album titled Lagrange Points (2008) and one EP Zaris/Cast The Route. Their latest release comes in the form of a acoustic record which includes new arrangements of some of their best known tracks. Mooncake is a truly fantastic band and probably one of the best things to come out of Russia so it’s no wonder that they’ve shared stage with bands such God Is An Astronaut, Explosions In The Sky, Caspian and Russian Circles. The acoustic album and dvd contains footage from the band’s performance for Rain TV. “Novorossiysk 1968” is just one of the songs the band performed live. I had the chance to receive both the digital album and the dvd footage and I can say that these new versions sound outstanding. Simply put Mooncake did a great job arranging and performing the acoustic versions. We definitely need this band to come down here in Bulgaria as the interest in that kind of music is growing and I’m sure many will be more than happy to see this band performing live in Sofia. Just to get an idea how good this band actually is I’m posting their first album. Hopefully I’m gonna see them one day live.