Swedish composer Philip Ekström of The Mary Onettes will be releasing a new solo project called H.MOON. His debut full-length Trustblood will be released through Welfare Sounds, a label based in Gothenburg, Sweden. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to H.MOON’s album and it is tremendous. “It’s blowing my mind,” is what I tweeted while listening to it for the first time. Look for Trustblood this Friday, May 22.
I have a propensity to love music from Sweden (and Scandinavian artists in general). I can’t hide this fact. Here are a few: José González, Loney, Dear, Jens Lekman, The Radio Dept., The Mary Onettes, The Tallest Man On Earth, Shout Out Loud, Lykke Li, The Knife, jj, The Amazing, I Break Horses. I don’t intentionally look for Swedish bands, but a fifteen-year trend is difficult to ignore. I digress. Philip Ekström’s work only reinforces this connection. (Please excuse my tangent.)
Philip Ekström didn’t intentionally set out to start H.MOON. He was composing the soundtrack for Drake Doremus‘s new film Endings, Beginnings. These songs began to take shape when he had unused tracks for the film. Writing for the film had taken him to an emotional space where H.MOON was birthed.
Trustblood, the title track, opens the album with dark chords of a soft analog synth tone. A looped percussion sample opens with the synth, and the lower drum tone changes tone with the chord changes, making it musically pleasing and soothing. Physical drums (toms) are brought in on the left that slowly sweeps toward the center, layered on top of the sample loop. The EQ on the drums have an emphasis on the attack, the tones sound as though they have tape saturation, and the low end is rolled off. A kick with low frequencies come in during the chorus, adding to the intensity.
Layers of individual synth notes come in. The first is panned to the left, and then a sequenced synth rolls in, filling the center before fading back out. This sequence comes back in during the song, with varying reverbs that blend the notes together.
I’ve seen it allH.MOON – “Trustblood”
We’ve come so far
Why is it so hard to face it now?
Vocally, He uses a dark trailing vocal plate, subtly mixing in his doubled vocals. One double is slightly delayed on the left, while he sings a harmony that is mostly an octave higher panned to the right (doubled at times). Another double is placed behind his main vocal. His somewhat raspy vocals are soft and unforced, matching the tone of this searching song. While the vocals are mixed as added texture to the song, his lyrics are as important as the depth of the instrumentation.
And did you forget
To put your faith in this blood?
And did you forgetH.MOON – “Trustblood”
To put your trust in this blood?
At 2:48 the song begins to culminate. A soft pulsating synth comes in on the left. A pipe organ fills the middle, while the sequenced synth comes in on the right (more upfront with less reverb) to overtake the song. As this fades out, a synth with a string tone in the middle left. Piano comes in with the picking of a banjo softly plays for couple measures while the instruments fade out.
And did you forget to put your trust in this blood?
I can’t hide from all the trustblood
I feel this blood like the weight of goldH.MOON – “Trustblood”
This song is brilliant, as is the entire album. It moves me and makes me pause. You’ll want to listen to this title track in context of the full-length as it sets the tone for the album. But it’s equally as strong standing alone. H.MOON’s debut is a standout for 2020.
Though this is a mix review for Trustblood, I’m including two other singles that H.MOON has released: Devotion and Back To Where It Hurts.
[…] Philip Ekström released an album in 2020 you may have missed under the moniker of H.MOON. The songs were stripped down with precise instrument placements. It’s a soul-searching album that draws strong emotions. You can read my review of the album here. […]