My first experience with the work of Russia's Moon Far Away was to be on the Russian Gothic Compilation known as Edge of the Night*. Moon Far Away appeared there with their track December of Times, which I found to be a mediocre track at best with some nuances I didn't enjoy. I received their second CD, Sator, and went into it with much trepidation being familiar with only their Edge contribution, and I'm happy to say that I enjoy the work overall.
Moon Far Away is first off a very ethereal/folk band. I'm not the biggest ambient/ethereal fan, but there are those that I love (Deathwatch Beetle Repairman, Mara's Torment, Freight Elevator Quartet). Moon Far Away's Sator has stealthily wiggled its way into the ethereal collection I intend to keep. Made up of three core members, Count Vish (voice/instruments), Anea (female voice) and Heleg (visuals - can't say much about his contribution to the music, though I can say the jacket's quite classy) and hailing from Arkhangelsk, Russia, Moon Far Away are highly influenced by their country and surroundings. Utilizing old acoustic and folk instrumentation and very low key and brooding arrangements, they've created a release that is soothing yet mysterious. Not quite dark overall, but definitely introspective.
Moon Far Away are truly fascinated by bells. The opening track, Ici-Haut/Hevelius opens with them right off and I remember them vividly from the Edge track, also here on Sator but track listed in Russian rather than English, Dezember Der Zeiten. But back to the opening track, the song opens with soothing tinkling arrangements and backing chord progressions, done so subtly you can barely discern them even though the rest of the arrangement is light. The vocals are more chant-like and Anea's work is very moody yet instills a comforting feeling rather than a darker one. Drum styles of Ici-Haut/Hevelius is echoing and beautifully arranged.
Track 2, To the Heaven Rhuanda, reminds me of work by the Freight Elevator Quartet. Chaotically arranged yet held together by cello (or another large string instrument), surreal flutes float about like butterflies. The chaotic nature, non-rhythmic based work of the track is so well done that at any moment the flight of fancy is going to disperse and leave you alone in a mist, but the cellos (again, I'm assuming cello here) hold it to earth so that it doesn't go too far. A beautiful example of chaotic arrangement. Moving on to track 3, Hymn, I was struck cold by the similarities between it and work by Deathwatch Beetle Repairman's Violet and Green with the opening strums. The cello is again here winding its way behind the sitar or acoustic guitar. Anea's vocals are bright and work together with the livelier strumming style very well. Track 10 of Sator, Elias Artista, is one of the lesser tracks of the album. While again floaty and nicely prepared, the track is just over 13 minutes long and it doesn't move ahead enough to merit such a length. I found it a bit long, but I agree that it's placement as the closing track of Sator was a good design as it does bring things to a comfortable, however droning, ending.
We'll end the detail at this point. All of the tracks are again quiet and ethereal with folk roots and older instruments. Sator is one of those CDs that the more you listen to it the more subtle perks you can find within the makeup of the music. If you enjoy the ethereal works of some of the bands I've mentioned here during the course of this review and/or the darkwave of bands you might find on the Projekt label, there is a good chance you will enjoy the moody, introspective yet comforting melodies of Moon Far Away.
* Reviewed in Legends #102, September 2000.
Post: c/o Andrei Turusinov, P.O. Box 215, Arkhangelsk, 163061, Russia