On his first non-soundtrack album since 2013s Pangea Ultima, Steve Moore goes deep. Beloved Exile is the musician’s most accomplished and engaging work yet, working with Tunisian singer/songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, harpist Mary Lattimore, and veteran percussionist Jeff Gretz. Along with the acerbic wit of Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle coming up with the album and song titles, Beloved Exile feels like Moore has come full circle, writing and recording his best record yet.
Up to this point, Moore’s sound has been entrenched in the world of the synth. Whether he was working with AE Paterra in Zombi or building soundscapes for filmmakers, Steve Moore’s sound was always very much his own and very much built from circuital beasts in the synth realm. But with Beloved Exile, Moore trades the synthetic for the organic. The sound here is grounded and of the earth, as opposed to orbiting with deep space glee. With this collaborative effort, Steve Moore has re-written his sonic rules and has made a record that feels tangible; a five-track album you can see, hear, and feel.
We’re greeted at the door by “Your Sentries will be Met with Force”, an almost mystical piece that has Moore’s subtle synth touches accentuated by Emel Mathlouthi’s exquisite vocal complexities. It’s the beautiful coming together of Moore’s sonic trademarks and almost new age sensibilities. It’s an exotic and captivating opening. “In the Shelter of the Dunes” does bring to mind Moore’s film work, in-particular his work on Jonas Govaerts’ Cub. Subtle bits of percussion, Lattimore’s dream-like harp, and swaths of Moore’s synth gives the song a mystical bend. Title track “Beloved Exile” has a jauntier rhythm, giving it an almost Peter Gabriel feel. I also get some Disasterpeace vibes here. Steve Moore could get into the video game scoring racket and do quite well I think.
The dark and mysterious “Throne Lane” drones beautifully into the final track, the epic “My Time Among the Snake Lords”. Of everything on Beloved Exile, this final 15-minutes feels the most Steve Moore of all the tracks. Hazy synths float along beautifully, engulfing you until they consume you. As the song moves along it picks up sonic pieces here and there, building percussion, bigger synths, and melodies forming till the song reaches its end. It has elements of 80s Tangerine Dream as well as classic John Harrison scores. It’s truly an epic finish.
Steve Moore has outdone himself with Beloved Exile. A truly awe-inspiring turn, his collaborative spirit here has served him well, and his more organic approach to his sonic world has made for one of the most engaging electronic records of the year.
8.3 out of 10