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Deastro - Moondagger

Released by Ghostly International, 6/23/09

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Maybe the answer can be found in the uncertainty surrounding our economy, the disillusionment facing recent graduates, or the intrinsic need for answers to all our questions. Any one of these would explain why Deastro’s Moondagger feels perfect. This is more than an album.

Moondagger is the story of Deastro as he travels into outer space, highlighting the growth of Randolph Chabot who is searching for meaning or simply -- a moon knife. At twenty-two, Randolph Chabot, aka Deastro, is a part of the generation of youth uncertain about their futures, and while many struggle with questions, Deastro’s story provides some answers.

Moondagger is like a dream as songs move quickly with bubbling rhythms and thoughts consumed by waves of synthesizers. Deastro’s verses emerge as introspective struggles, interrupted by philosophical moments of clarity. On “Tone Adventure #3” he sings, “I have been here before / with the feather in my madness and fear at my door / I know all the answers the questions are keeping the storm / It determinates the fear of unknown.” And while this might seem pretentious for someone of his age, he is also humble in his understanding as he says, “Even the darkest sin has the taste of regret / we can’t be all be that bad if we wish we were different,” on “Toxic Crusader". These are just a few of Deastro’s insights, as each track seems to provide the scattered thoughts of a young adult growing in wisdom.

Originally a solo project, Moondagger is Deastro’s first album backed with a (tight) band. The undertones in his music range with poppy Beach Boy progressions or dark introspective tones a la Depeche Mode, but at its core his sound is rooted in electronica. Like Animal Collective each song is rich with sounds, but where critics might cite Animal Collective as radio unfriendly, Randolph Chabot has a mastery of big hooks that can capture even the most distant of listeners. Even on the few instrumental tracks like “Pyramid Builders", there is a levity which rises into electronic orchestras of uplifting keys dancing over omniscient synthesizer spurts.

While the elongated title of “Daniel Johnston was Stabbed in the Heart with the Moondagger by the King of Darkness and His Ghost is Writing this Song as a Warning to All of Us,” would suggest this is the centerpiece of the album, it is really just another hopeful reassurance. If Deastro can see from outer space that we need to start over as he sings, “We’re going to build this town / we’re going to build it right,” then when we awake from this dream, we are reminded that were not alone. Like Randolph Chabot’s future, life seems more hopeful with Moondagger.