Father Moo and the Black Sheep

Father Moo and the Black Sheep

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Another in the series of Makoto Kawabata side projects, Father Moo and the Black Sheep existed for only one album, first issued on the Acid Mothers label and then reissued in slightly varying forms in the following years. Consisting of three untitled tracks and an unclear lineup -- unless the three rather naked people with Kawabata in his Father Moo guise in the artwork are the rest of the band -- it's a mysterious blend of ambient chill and psychedelic zone-out that is almost the equivalent of a lengthy, unsettling sigh. The first cut starts things on a somber note, soft but dark drones building up from silence, but this gets a nice contrast (as well as a complement) with throaty female vocals that call Middle Eastern singing traditions to mind. The vocals tend to remain a subtle counterpoint throughout the song, letting the haunting moans of sound -- very reminiscent of Thomas K├Âner's work, or Mick Harris in Lull mode -- set the doom-laden tone. The second track -- at nearly half an hour's length, two-thirds of the release in total -- continues the general atmosphere with long, never-ending drones surrounded gently and irregularly by wafting calls and other textures, giving the sense of a ceremonial ritual carried out with the strictest of solemnities. The final track is the shortest at only five minutes and is more a keyboard piece than anything else, a mesmerizing organ part mixed with the familiar drones from elsewhere on the album to create a brief coda for the overall experience. It's perhaps no surprise that Kawabata later said that Father Moo had departed for "the planet of love" -- having perfected his art, there wasn't much else more to do.