If you're a fan of Godspeed You Black Emperor, chances are that you've heard the name Mike Moya. He was a member of the group playing guitars on their first two releases, and the first track of their Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP simply goes by the name "Moya" and is dedicated to all the cats who have gone missing at the Mile End in Montreal. In addition to being one of the founding members of the above group, though, he's also a member of Molasses, The Lonesome Hanks, and was also part of the recent Set Fire To Flames collective album Sings Reign Rebuilder.
That all may come as no surprise, though, as some of the best music I've heard in the past couple of years has come out of different collections of Canadian musicians. Spread out over the Alien8 and Constellation labels, almost 10 different bands or projects (and numerous more musicians) have been creating some amazing music. Hrsta is one of the newest of these bands, and although it's mainly a project by multi-instrumentalist Mike Moya, there are several other players. As one might expect, the tone of the album sort of fits in alongside work by contemporaries. It's not as stripped-down as Molasses, not as shimmering as Fly Pan Am, and not as psychedelic as Shalabi Effect, but there are little elements of each that creep through and add up to something new yet again.
The album titled track opens up the release and it's basically just an introduction of sorts, as the layers of droning guitars slowly wash by and drift directly into the following track of "Lime Kiln." While the track takes on a more traditional structure, the lyrics of decay and woozy instrumentation fit together into something that you might hear the ghosts of a mining town singing. From there, the album goes through several shorter instrumental tracks, some more simple guitar melodies ("I Can Transform Myself Into Anyone I Want"), while others are more experimental (the howling theremin-like sounds of "Jakominplatz").
Although the instrumental tracks on the release are sometimes excellent, it's the tracks on which Moya sings that really take hold. The lethargic pace of "21-87" is made even more languid with the addition of vocals that sound like they were done while half asleep, and when the final, louder part of the track hits, the words come falling out in a slurred mumble/growl that sounds like he was shaken awake. On "Silver Planes" (the most droning song on the album), the vocals never get louder than a whisper, while on "Lucy's Sad" (a dark, folk singalong) he damn near yodels.
This is nowhere near a fast-moving album, though. Although a couple different tracks reach an almost feverish pitch, things mainly move along at a steady pace with an overall feel that is slightly haunting and eerie. It's a combination of0 swirling instrumentation, and the lazy, sometimes bewildering vocals by Moya himself, but if you're into some of the bands mentioned above and their quieter moments, this is definitely something to seek out. Not immediately striking, but something to keep you company on a cold winter night.