Although the phrase often carries a bit of a willy-nilly undertone, “just vibing” in the shadow of 2020 is what No Moon—the latest album from Dan Barrett’s chillwave project Black Wing—seems to reflect.
The synth-driven album, which is available now via The Flenser, feels cold, but it’s not overpoweringly frigid. Most of the music feels rather unencumbered, as Barrett—whose other projects include Have A Nice Life and Giles Corey—sticks to gently poignant melodies that seem to billow like a slowly growing blanket of musical fog throughout this latest Black Wing effort.
Most of the time, No Moon hinges on Barrett’s richly swirling synths and his vocals—and that’s pretty much it, leaving attention-grabbing emotional nuance on full display.
Rather than a vast expanse of sound, Barrett’s songs feel personal, like soundtracks for sitting alone and peering into a mirror while sort of simmering in the emotional malaise of surrounding events. The melodies smoothly move along, but there’s a definite underlying rip current of self-contemplation.
For the most part, outside of moments like the suddenly brisk rush of “Vulnerable,” Barrett sticks to a tempo somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, as if capturing the feeling of ragged persistence that might accompany an early-morning flow of subway or highway traffic. The synth tones themselves feel like a slow snowfall—they’re chilly, and a bit confrontational, but there’s a subtly warm and somewhat inviting breadth in the sound, as if zeroing in on a campfire amidst the hazy snow.
All of these newest Black Wing songs feel rather richly developed, from the sparkling, thumping beat of “Bollywood Apologetics” to the slightly tenser and somewhat off-kilter percussion of follow-up track “Ominous 80.”
On “Always a Last Time” and elsewhere, the shimmer in the sound makes the songs feel a bit chorally majestic, even if subtly so. Among other flourishes, the melodies on “Is This Real Life, Jesus Christ” feel—aptly enough, considering the lyrical mood—grounded, but a bit cathartically flippant.
The album, with its vibrant and propulsive yet personal-feeling and strikingly accessible melodies, feels like experiencing the vastness of modern life without just about anyone else around—which seems fitting, even if in a rhetorical sense, for the wake of 2020. The music feels richly powerful, but Barrett funnels this power into flowing emotional catharsis.