Mark Darnell-Marquez/9 Ghosts, Lunar Year (11:11 Music)

Mark Darnell Marquez - Lunar YearWith Lunar Year, multi-instrumentalist/composer Mark Darnell-Marquez adds singer/songwriter to his musical persona, 9 Ghosts. Previously under the moniker, Darnell-Marquez released an arresting piano set, The Book of Disquiet, as well as an evocative electro-acoustic chamber suite, In Twilight. Here, once again, Darnell-Marquez demonstrates his mastery of the sonic landscape. Produced by Tom McDermott, Lunar Year is wrought with anguish, despair, and longing. Vocally and lyrically, Darnell-Marquez proves just as capable, delivering an equally gripping and haunting performance. Through creeping atmospherics and a weighty acoustic strum, he guides the somber “A Day of Radiance”: “If I could turn back the hands of time, you know I’d make things right / We could live like God’s children, sleeping in the afternoon sunlight.”

On many levels, Lunar Year brings to mind Thom Yorke’s recent solo album The Eraser. However, where Yorke relied on electronic textures and synthetic beats to create The Eraser’s air of detachment, Darnell- Marquez’s intricately layered piano and guitar melodies give Lunar Year’s dissonant textures a more humanizing quality. Though bleak, a dim and fleeting dream looms over the agony of “The Sustainer,” the misery of “Your Majesty,” and the isolation of “The Boatless Sea.” Additionally, several instrumental collages steer Lunar Year’s course, and while the piercing shifts of “White Halo / Anew-Amen” and the drifting lull of “Tall Ships” certainly add to the thematic motif, other numbers tend to belabor this dour, woebegone saga. Still, Lunar Year makes for a compelling—albeit chilling—listen, especially the CD version, which includes an utterly bewitching rendition of King Crimson’s prog masterpiece “In the Court of the Crimson King.”