If The Moonlandingz sometimes seem so ludicrous it feels like they’ve stepped from of the pages of a particularly surreal story, it’s because they have.
Starting life in the imagination of Sheffield experimental outfit Eccentronic Research Council, they were the fictional band at the centre of their 2012 concept album ‘Johnny Rocket, Narcissist, & Music Machine… I’m Your Biggest Fan’ narrated by actress Maxine Peake, who introduced them as “a cosmic kraut-abilly group, wearing lederhosen and tin-foil socks”.
Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski from Fat White Family helped tell the story of ‘Johnny Rocket’, bringing the contorted concept to life. Not forgetting ECR’s Dean Honer, who used to be part of All Seeing I (of ‘Beat Goes On’ fame in 1998). Confused? The blurred lines are kinda the point and half the fun. But now The Moonlandingz have turned fiction into semi-reality by making their debut album… and it’s brilliant.
And because they’re not ‘real’, this supergroup of sorts, have license to do anything. On stage, that means you’ll see creepy ringleader Johnny Rocket (Saoudi) wearing earrings made of ham and bracelets carved from loafs of bread. It’s a wild, entertaining spectacle. At one particularly provocative show in January, Rocket turned up to a gig at a European music conference naked apart from a glitter codpiece, a poncho and ‘LEAVE’ scrawled across his face in lipstick. You don’t get that at a Drake show.
Like their gigs, the album’s packed with outlandish spills, too. While songs like ‘Vessels’, ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’, ‘Black Hanz’ and ‘The Rabies Are Back’ are all a bit daft, they’re also catchy, indie-disco dancefloor-ready pop songs in their own sinister, nightmarish way. The most immediate moments might come when Saoudi – sorry, Johnny Rocket – unleashes his ghoulish Nick Cave impression, but there’s variety here, too. Downbeat moody duet ‘The Strangle Of Anna’ is ostensibly The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ given a contemporary spin.
It ends with the unlikely pairing of The Human League’s Phil Oakey and Yoko Ono howling on a cosmic six-minute electronic-prog wig-out ‘The Cities Undone’. You couldn’t make it up. Accept, well, The Moonlandingz just have.