There’s nobody that’s indifferent to mood music. There’s always a strand of it that hits the right buttons with any person. But, to do so, it has to have at least some level of quality playing.
Still, there’s always one question that needs an answer with mood music. When does it really serve its purpose and when does it cross the line into overly melodramatic or into just pure kitsch?
Moon and Bike are guitarists Michael Swanson and Boone Johnson, living some 200 miles apart in Oregon who do work in that slippery field of mood music, combining the sounds of both acoustic and electric guitars. And 200 miles is actually the same distance they recorded their debut album at, simply titled One.
On paper, it sounds like a perfect recipe for disaster, like music that has all these pretty surface colors but no real substance. But, luckily Swanson and Johnson escape all the possible trappings with both ease and flair, 200 miles apart or not.
To do so, they certainly need technical skills on their instruments, and by the sound of it they have abundance of it. But the key to making their music work lies in the fact that they have not just the feel of it, but some form of telepathic connection to sense when exactly to let the notes flow and when to let the space between them underlie those notes.
And you can hear that they have taken all their musical cues in the right places, acoustic guitarists like Mike Hedges, and electric guitar masters like Bill Frisell and Michael Rother.
Such an approach and feel gives Moon and Bike the ability to come up with music that does create the mood they go after, without making their musical colors too bright for the ears.