Prog Magazine Sampler: MoonJune Records by Various Artists

Release date: November 18, 2021
Label: MoonJune Records

To paraphrase David Fricke’s liner notes from the 2017 compilation Sky Music: A Tribute to Terje Rypdal, “Music is everything. It is where I go most to be thrilled, educated, healed, confounded, lifted, and changed; then dazzled and changed again.” Well, that’s the same with me whenever I hear music. I want it to be powerful, structured, and well-crafted ideas to make my mind blow away. I also want the ideas to be educational, and I want the journey to continue on this neverending story.

For nearly 21 years MoonJune Records is still going strong. Founded by Leonardo Pavkovic in 2001, the label initially started out with associated members from the Soft Machine and the Canterbury scene. It has grown to go beyond the genre and into other areas from around the world. You have these amazing bands and artists from Dennis Rea, Stick Men, Dewa Budjana, SimakDialog, Markus Reuter, SH.TG.N, and one of my favourites, Slivovitz. The label is like a roller-coaster ride that will never stop. Not only that Leonardo is a fan of music, but he is bringing the sound to our earphones and letting listeners take a peak on what is over the horizon. And it just goes to show you that Prog is more than just a four letter word.

That and the compilation of the digital MoonJune sampler containing 20-tracks from the label on the latest issue of PROG Magazine. You can imagine that Pavkovic travels around the world to see what he has brought to the kitchen table with delicious spicy flavours. From the blistering organ drive, pounding piano, sitar droning and Mahavishnu-sque chase of Stratus Luna’s ‘Zarabatana’ to the crying of the gods from Wingfield and Sirkis laying down the sinister textures of ‘The Fifth Window’.

You can see a lot of work that is like an introduction to have listeners be aware of mind-blowing musicians who have an understanding technique of real good vibrations. Speaking of Wingfield, Sirkis, and Levin, you travel to the outskirts of Southeast Asia in the compilation.

Since travelling to the area in 2003 for three weeks, Leo wanted to see what was going on in the music scene over there. And it has opened his eyes to really see that this country has a lot of amazing rituals.

You have Dewa Budjana’s tribal experimentations with fanfare riff textures, and beautiful landscaping melodies on ‘Blue Mansion’ and the epic 10-minute piano nod to Vince Guaraldi’s midsection of Dwiki Dharmawan’s ‘Paris Barantai’, featuring Sa’at Syah’s scatting vocals and pounding bass / drum lines between Carles Benavent and Sirkis to lead the charge.


Elsewhere, there’s the Crimson connection on the sampler Leo has brought to the table with Stick Men and Markus Reuter. It’s more than just Jazz, but carrying the brutal monstrous force between those two connections. Stick Men’s mysterious cat-and-mouse chase ‘Leonardo’ and the nod to the THRAK-era on ‘Level 5’, sees more of the continuation on where Robert Fripp had left off between the Wetton-era and the 1995 comeback album.

Reuter is one of those artists that carries the aspects between the Kosmische Musik scene and the electronic boundaries that he grew up listening. He brings originality, spiritual atmospheres, and going beyond the horizon. The eerie dystopian wasteland scenery of a nightmare that is unveiling in front of our eyes on ‘Swoonage’ and the alternate film scores from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Rainer Weiner Fassbinder’s sci-fi miniseries, World on a Wire on ‘The Occult (Dice 1)’, he is bringing listeners to unknown parallel universes that is unravelling and can give you the ultimate reality checks to wake-up.

Speaking of experimental, we have to head back into the outskirts of Switzerland and Belgium where Sonar’s own Stephan Thelen takes us into the heart of the jungle with galloping drum sections and Torn’s looping sequences on ‘Cosmic Krautrock’ and Dominique Vantomme’s electro juice with Levin and Michel Delville taking us into the hallway of mirrors for the hat-tipping to Tomita on ‘Equal Minds’.

But as soon as Mahogany Frog kicks in, boy you are in for a surprise. The hay-wiring brutal punches come straight at you for a trip-hop voyage on ‘Cube’. They bring the house down to get the dance floors up-and-running for an electro-dance vibe that will have you feet going until the break of dawn.

And now we close the MoonJune curtain for two artists from Slovenia and Serbia. The mournful aftermath between militant drum work, flute, tuba, accordion and violin around the aftermath of war in a bloody scene turned into a celebration of a variation from Paganini of Vasko Atanasovski’s ‘Liberation’. And the tribute to the man himself with a jazz-funk Rock styles of Parliament Funkadelic cooking up BBQ for Thelonious Monk, Stanley Clarke, Santana, and the Degüello-era of ZZ Top for ‘Mr. MoonJune’ by the Vasil Hadzimanov Band.

This compilation sampler from PROG Magazine is a real introduction for listeners who want to get on the MoonJune wagon. Not only that the compilation is a fabulous ride, but the music here is challenging, raw, in your face, and right until the very end that would make you clear CD shelves to get you introduced to the world of MoonJune Records. For Leonardo Pavkovic, he is like a flaming fire that will never burn out when it comes to real good music. And in the words of Steve Winwood from his Traffic years in the late ’60s, “Who knows what tomorrow may bring.

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