Review: Les Moontunes – Les Moontunes

Category: music 277

On their self-titled studio debut, Les Moontunes deliver a winning combination of thick grooves, poetic lyricism and originality.

Matt Carter 
Album art by Marcel Leblanc

Much has been written about the optimism we so eagerly hope to glean from all the new music we’ve enjoyed over the past year or more.  With each new album explored, we as listeners seem determined to find that glimmer of hope hidden between bridges and choruses, blanketed in metaphor or cleverly constructed through tone and melody. For some, and I’ll include myself on this list, music has long been something we turn to when we’re in need of a confidence boost, either as a result of a particularly long day, weeks of frustrating news stories or those rare life altering events that, thankfully, are few and far between. Except for right now, of course. Dealing with the unimaginable has become part of our everyday routine to a point that it’s dulled our senses somewhat, making true joy hard to come by at times. Knowing this, we can all most likely agree that when we’re fortunate enough to stumble upon a record that satisfies our desire to escape the moment and dream with confidence and pleasure, it’s like winning the lottery without all the cash. More of a mental lottery win, which right now seems to be a more meaningful reward. 

With the release of their self-titled debut studio album, the Moncton septet Les Moontunes have shared ten tracks that may very well offer you everything your pandemic-dulled brain could ever hope for. Mixing the free nature of jazz improvisation with the strong elements of jam, soul, hip hop and progressive rock – and maybe even a touch of metal aggression – you’d be hard pressed to not derive some level of gratification from this album’s boundless 52 minutes.

Les Moontunes’ ability to amalgamate the wealth of influences present on this album can be traced back to the group’s origins about a decade ago, starting out as a creative outlet for a group of kids in high school. 

“Music is mostly what got us together during our teenage years, jamming and just having a good time during the weekends,” said Patrick Gaudet, the group’s guitarist. “In 2015, Elijah [Mackongo] joined our jam sessions and started improvising raps over our jams. Shortly after this, he pushed us into playing our first gig. This led us to brainstorm and find a band name. We also had to structure our songs since they were mostly improvised jams. This was, for sure, a turning point for the creation of the band.

“Our pianist/singer Miguel Dumaine, who also happens to have one of the best mullets in the Maritimes, usually comes to jams with chord progressions and ideas that the rest of the band expand on,” said Gaudet. “During the creative process, each band member pitches in their ideas that come from various influences. This is how we have mostly cooked up our songs and our first album [Live on the Moon]. Anywhere from jazz to metal influences, every band member brings different colors into the mix.”

The lack of traditional song structures on Les Moontunes have been a defining element of the group from the start. Improvising ideas above a basic concept eventually became the method by which this ensemble builds its work. This template for creation can be heard through the group’s studio debut comprised largely of melodies that develop and expand over time with piano, guitar, bass, percussion and horns all contributing to a larger whole. With shifts in direction and timing that pave the way for each instrument to take the lead, the album benefits greatly from the many voices present, each adding a distinct colour and emotive atmosphere. 

Though dark at times, and darker still at others, Les Moontunes still has its moments of light, each helping to muster that certain je ne sais quoi that leads to impulsive acts of headbanging, fist pumping, and those best-kept-secret solo dance performances you didn’t know you were capable of. All this the result of a winning combination of thick grooves, poetic lyricism and originality. 

On one hand, this album feels like a perfect soundtrack to these bleak times, but on the other, it also feels like the best way through them. That’s a big win. 

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