Mike Moya, the man behind Hrsta, has been doing great work for some time in Montreal. He’s a founding member of godspeed you black emperor! and Molasses, and is a part of Set Fire to Flames, the collective which released last year’s delightfully bent Sings Reign Rebuilder. L’éclat du ciel était insoutenable (The explosion in the sky was unbearable) is a solo effort with help from friends. It’s similar in tone to Sings, which is an album of droning, creaking urban haunted house music; but it adds an element of the singer-songwriter to the mix.
The album is based around Moya’s strummed guitar dirges, which he sings in a reedy warble somewhere between The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan and the inordinate keen of Television’s Tom Verlaine. And he’s got a flair for drama that, at best, recalls Roger Waters, but mostly sounds like an over-the-top parody of Waters. Moya can be painfully melodramatic in singing his morbid tales.
The vocal tracks appear at intervals on the record. The first is called “Lime Kiln”, and it follows the disc’s droning opening piece. The generally benign quicklime-producing furnace seems to have some very sinister purpose here, and the singing saw adds a real Blair Witch ambience to the track. The other vocal tunes follow roughly the same template with slight variations in the tempo and choice of minor chords.
It’s the surrounding stuff that’s best. Some of the drone-based pieces are nicely textured and dynamic; similar to the material on the Set Fire to Flames record. Expect industrial chugging, lonesome accordions, feedback, satanic backwards vocals, and singing saws, all presented with a cavernous production aesthetic. Some of the more traditionally musical instrumental tracks, like the relatively brief “City of Gold”, accomplish the same despondent mood as the vocal tracks, without the histrionics.
Hrsta’s record was released in November 2001. As you probably deduced, it’s not one of the high points of Mike Moya’s discography. But there’s some good Moya-related news for this upcoming November — his band godspeed will be releasing their follow-up to Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antenna To Heaven, called Yanqui U.X.O..