For his latest album under the name Moonface, pop-virtuoso Spencer Krug was inspired by the sound of the vintage Yamaha organ—complete with preset rhythms and sounds—that he played as a teenager.
"When I started working on ideas that became the genesis of these songs, I wasn't too keen on using an overly digital sound. A lot of that stuff often sounds so dry and artificial," says Krug on his cell phone after waking from a nap while on the road to a gig in Alberta, Canada.
The road will bring Moonface to Tucson for a gig on Friday night, Oct. 21, at Club Congress. On the current tour, the band consists of Krug and percussionist Mike Bigelow.
That new album, Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped, was released in August by Jagjaguwar Records. It's an adamantly experimental recording consisting of five extended songs with an average running time of 7 1/2 minutes. Driven by Krug's analog keyboards, hypnotic rhythms and poetic lyrical imagery, the new album often sounds like a blend of dirge-like synth-pop, sexy trance and shamanistic ritual.
"I was into the idea of creating something with warmth and depth, something that sounded a little more organic, (and) being restricted by and exploiting the different possibilities of the presets and arpeggios programmed into the organ. Then we added loops and pedals and different effects, and the album just started coming together."
Krug said he doesn't adhere to the conventions of standard, three-minute pop songs. Running time was never among his concerns when recording Organ Music, he says.
"I try to not think about a song's length. I wonder how long it is when we are making it, and I always think it might be, say, four minutes. Then when we stop, it's, like, seven. But I try not to let time dictate how a song is made. I don't want to sound corny, but I really just try to allow the songs to be the length they are supposed to be, whatever that means."
Some Krug fans may be saddened to know that he no longer plays with the stellar indie-rock acts for which he has become known: Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Frog Eyes, and Swan Lake.
Moonface offers the 34-year-old Montreal-based singer, songwriter and keyboardist an opportunity to stretch out and try new things. Case in point: the project's first release, Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums, which consisted of one uninterrupted 20-minute cut on one side of a vinyl record.
"The thing I am trying to do with Moonface is have it so every project is a little different than the last; it's meant to be a series of distinct collaborations, or solo work, whatever happens. I don't want to get caught up in a method or sound or aesthetic."
Although he is careful to avoid sounding too precious, Krug says he doesn't want to become confined by expectations, including those of listeners or fellow band members.
"In other bands I have been in, that has usually turned out to be the case, and it can be a bit frustrating. This isn't intended to be a high-concept thing, but just to keep mixing it up."
Krug says that his complete attention is devoted to Moonface, so "for all intents and purposes, my participation in those other bands is over, and I don't expect them to continue. It's not like we broke up badly, or there was any trouble, but they were simply projects that ran their course."
Moonface, though, has yet to run its course. Already, Krug has finished recording the basic tracks of his project's next album in Finland with the instrumental rock band Siinai.
"It's very much a rock record, with guitar, drums and bass. I really like that band, and I was already friends with a couple of them. I think I was looking for something where I am less-involved with the music, just writing the lyrics and singing, and they were willing to try that with me. I played a few keyboard parts, but left most of the music up to them."
Krug fans who can't wait for the forthcoming album with Siinai can visit the Moonface website (moonface.ca) to get a free download of the track "The Way You Wish You Could Live in the Storm." It's an outtake from the Organ Music sessions that Krug says "just didn't fit in with the other bunch of songs."
Krug and Bigelow, however, will perform a version of that tune on the current tour.