Album Review: Moñecho – Past Waters/Fever Lives
Williamsport, Pennsylvania native, Matthew Serra, blends numerous musical genres to create a debut album that will challenge you to categorize his music as anything other than ethereally beautiful. Serra, who performs under the moniker Moñecho (pronounced moh-NYEH-koh), put the album together with only the help of one mastering engineer. Every instrument and vocal you hear as well as the mixing are performed by Serra. The final product, Past Waters/Fever Lives, is nothing short of a sonic experiment that will force you to forget all your preconceived notions of what a successful album should sound like.
As the album title suggest, Past Waters/Fever Lives consists of two separate song bodies. Part I, Past Waters, is the first four tracks while the last tracks comprise Fever Lives acting as the yang to Past Waters yin.
The first half of the album sounds like something off a Grizzly Bear album infused with the ambiance of Sigur Rós. Album opener, “Oceans,” eases you into Moñecho’s sound slowly with layered instrumentations and the sound of waves rushing into the shore. By the two minute mark, the track starts to sound darker than before, an urgency fills the once light chimes. Airy vocals and echoing percussion intensify the feeling of a storm brewing. Everything falls away as an acoustic guitar comes in lulling the listener back to a calm state. Though the track lacks a lyrical structure, there is still a lot to be felt throughout it’s nearly ten minute run.
The opening guitars, drums, and vocals on “Gnosis” sound like they could have been lifted right from a Grizzly Bear album which perks my ears up immediately. Haunting vocal harmonies echo throughout the guitar and percussion driven track, lacing the slight unease created on “Oceans” throughout. Synthesizers and samples launch the album from the water into space as layer upon layer is stacked up before falling away and bringing you back to earth.
“Green Sun” closes out the Past Waters portion of the album nicely. Calming guitars and vocals will have you feeling as if you are floating along the once turbulent sea created on “Oceans” toward a new world. The track will have you so mesmerized that you’ll barely notice the tempo begin to increase at the half way point ushering in the beginning of the Fever Lives portion of the album. The landscapes created on the Past Waters half of the album are vast and so textured that it almost seems as if you’ll always hear something new no matter how many times you listen through.
Harmonized chants open the Fever Lives half of the album on “Torrent” before erupting into hard hitting percussion and plucked instruments which remind me of the version of “All Along the Watchtower” created by Bear McCreary for Battlestar Galactica (which reminds me I really need to rewatch the series again). “Érase” is another haunting track filled with intricate vocal melodies and flamenco inspired guitars. Like all of Moñecho’s tracks, there’s a lot of emotion packed into the expansive track.
I feel like I could write page upon page on Moñecho’s Past Waters/Fever Lives and still not even scratch the surface of everything the album has to offer. Ignoring the conventions of one particular genre or even multiple genres and just allowing himself to take any and all inspiration he could find and running with it, Moñecho crafts a truly unique and wonderfully strange listening experience that you won’t find anywhere else. More importantly, he crafts a solidly great first album that will challenge you to let go of you everything you thought you knew about what an album should do and say. So open up your mind and fall down the rabbit hole into Moñecho’s strange and beautiful world.