Records made from graphite provide the foundational pieces of multidisciplinary Illinois artist Allen Moore’s second album, Lived a deviL, his first for the Monastral label. Moore’s visual art centers around the use of graphite, whether in drawings, paintings, or sculptures and on his debut, Solar Church, he brought that medium to sound. Lived a deviL expands on this work, adding okra leaves, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, and other samples, to offer a deep narrative about famous and lesser-known Black historical figures.
Sonically, Moore treads in unexplored zones. Scratched-out voices fight through the static on pieces like “Dysonic 119” and “Prescient Wobble,” the haunted voices beaming through time into modern corridors. Backed with subterranean rhythms, these grounded tracks flourish inside Afrofuturist dub matrices. Moore’s meticulous and powerful soundscapes snap into shape with hollow pulses on “Tragic Star/Knocking On the Sky,” moving through abandoned streets like a wrecking ball picking up speed.
Drones trace the surfaces of burnt-out buildings on the hypnotic “Black Pastures,” casting affecting vocal symbols into glass. The effect is mesmerizing with the drawn-out tones drawing the ear closer to the message, allowing it to implant in the deepest reaches of the brain. It’s such a powerful piece as it ends with the echoing words, “There’s something more.”
“Venture” sits near the middle, acting as a barrier with synth notes shining like aqueous torches trying to push back the discordant static made from sliced and processed voices in the surrounding darkness. It’s an eerie presentation, the sound of hope desperately hanging on to dwindling threads, determined to find peace in the chaos. Moore does an incredible job lacing each of these 13 pieces with equal parts of pain, determination, aspiration, and longing for something better to rise from the ashes. Lived a deviL is a potent statement from an artist with a distinctive voice.
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