Limelight: MoeTar

As much as we music obsessives like to create tidy subdivisions within our favourite genres, the real magic often emerges when bands use every available digit to press as many distinct buttons as possible. California’s MoeTar exhibit that hunger for difference with more feverish alacrity than most with second album Entropy Of The Century.

“It’s an ongoing discussion in the MoeTar house!” says vocalist Moorea Dickason. “I like to call it art rock or just rock, leaving it as a blank slate for the listener to define it as they like.”

“I also like the term art rock because it hints at the larger aesthetic of music as art,” adds bassist Tarik Ragab. “I’m a visual artist and when I write musicI associate it with colours and scenes in my mind.” Amid this band’s blur of angular rhythmic quirks, sublime avant-pop melodies and mischievous theatricality there throbs a sense of lyrical purpose. Prog fans that demand insight and intelligence to match the refined complexity of the music will find plenty to chew on during Entropy Of The Century. “Yes, it’s a concept record!” Ragab states. “Entropy is the breakdown of systems which is commonly thought of as chaos and decay, but I see it as an evolution toward deeper complexity. Death is a common theme, not necessarily in the negative sense but more to symbolise rebirth and renewal. The album offers cautionary tales of a technological world devouring resources, over-populating and moving too quickly toward the brink of destruction in the hopes of changing that behaviour.” The US prog scene has been growing in strength and stature over the last few years; a symptom, perhaps, of American subculture re-embracing weirdness in the face of increased conservatism. “Americans can definitely get weird,” Dickason notes. “We live in a great area for it, too. The East Bay in California has a large contingent of creative people. It’s an inspiring place to be!” “I think there is a hunger building for new and more interesting music here,” adds Tarik. With plans for a third album already in the works, MoeTar are doing yet more intrepid sonic exploring. As implied by new album highlight The Unknowable, it’s not the destination that matters in prog, but the journey itself. “I was having a bit of an existential crisis a while back, thinking profoundly about death and the finality of it all,” says Tarik. “I don’t know why but it hit me like a ton of bricks and ended up as that song. The tune is the narrative of the album coming to an end, having to say goodbye and the conclusion that there really are just a lot of unanswerable questions in this thing we call reality. We might as well try to enjoy ourselves while we’re here!”

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.