The Light Of The Moon is the second album by Gnoss, a quartet founded by two Orcadians, Aidan Moodie and Graham Rorie and expanded by Connor Sinclair and Craig Baxter. Here they are helped out by James Lindsay’s double bass. It may be their time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland or experience gained on the road that gives them a sophistication beyond their years but whatever it is they stand out.
Rorie and Sinclair write the tunes and lead vocalist Moodie writes the songs – strong melodies paired with lyrics suffused with surrealistic images that make you want to go back to them again and again. The opener is one of Rorie’s compositions, ‘The Orange Butcher’, here titled ‘Gordon’s’ in honour of his uncle. It’s a flowing, up-tempo piece with Sinclair’s whistle over Moodie’s guitar and Rorie’s mandolin. The first song is ‘The River’, an optimistic story of not-quite-requited love – “hard rain doesn’t mean the clouds will stay” – urged along by Baxter’s percussion.
Almost imperceptibly it morphs into Sinclair’s ‘Good Crieff’ followed by ‘Alister & Katrina’s’, a lovely flute piece with jazz inflections. In fact, the whole album flows along in this way. If you don’t pay attention you’ll think you’re listening to track 6 only to find that you’re almost at the end. My favourite of Moodie’s songs is ‘Honey Dew’, a dream-like lyric about temptation dotted with phrases like “peach lamp light” and “life’s a faded book” but the final verse gives the game away.
‘Cold Clay’ was released as the first single and is, I suppose, about life’s disappointments with striking phrases: “sky of cherry plum” and “a grey glow in a dirty mirror”. Again Baxter plays the opening notes to establish the pace of the song. Rorie’s ‘Becky’s’ and Sinclair’s ‘Adelaide’s’ are separated by a brief ‘Prelude’ before the last song, ‘Sun That Hugs The Ocean’ and the big finish of ‘That’s Me’ with Moodie’s insistent guitar underpinning Rorie’s fiddle.
The production by the band and Scott Wood allows you to hear every instrument clearly even in the most convoluted passages which is quite remarkable. One to listen to by the light of the moon, perhaps?
Artists’ website: www.gnossmusic.com
‘Cold Clay’ – official video: