Set 27 | Christopher Moock
For as far back as he can remember, horticulture has always played a large role in the creative identity of long-time east Dallas musician, Christopher Moock. This influence is readily apparent when looking at his newest project, in a long line of projects, Spora Junket. “That garden-music bug has always been there.” Spora Junket, who just released their debut album, Wormwood & Cardoon, two weeks ago features an exceptional cast of musicians. With Chris on harmonium and bass, Paul Overbey on guitar and keys, Craig Shropshire handling percussion, Jim Lehnert on horns, and vocals from Ann Sansone, Wormwood and Cardoon is an exhibition of unique and innovative sound. The album itself is a hybrid of different genres, or as Chris refers to it, western parlor music. The opening track, "On My Way," begins in a slow march, and expands in an eerie, carnivalesque amalgamation of melodies. Spora Junket achieves its goal on the album, each track painting a clear image in your mind, acting almost like the soundtrack to a yet unfilmed movie. “When I started making music, it was because I wanted to make films. I thought well no I’ll just make music as film, so they were always ‘soundtracky’ but always had a storyline to give it a little more weight, make a little more sense.” Though lyrically minimal from start to finish, the lyrics that are present clearly express the natural cycle of life, taking you on a surreal journey through a poetic soundscape like pollen in the wind. The album is an art piece, to say the least, and seems to be the realization of some of Chris’s earliest ideas for creating music. “A lot of my early work was absolutely background music. My idea was that you wouldn’t even realize that there was music on… so the early stuff was like that. A lot of fun, very film-inspired and garden-inspired way back then too.” The release of this album has been a long time coming, and is the result of months of recording and engineering work on Chris’s end. Though the album is the first release on Chris’s newly launched production company, Forecast Gallery, it is by no means his first venture into audio production and engineering.
After moving to Dallas in ’93, Chris and long-time friend, Matt Castille, settled into the neighborhood around Lower Greenville where they met Jason Cohen. Together the three of them co-founded the experimental group, Vas Deferens Organization, informally known as VDO. It was with VDO that Chris began dabbling in the field of audio engineering. Since the inception of VDO in 1995, they have racked up a whopping 63 album credits, with 13 albums still sitting on the shelf. They’ve even worked with notable artists such as Ariel Pink, collaborating to produce two albums: Shits & Giggles (2008) and Ariel Pink with Added Pizzazz (2010) which was recorded with the help of local legends - Dennis, Aaron, and Stefan Gonzalez - and also featured Spora Junket member, Jim Lehnert. Though VDO Studios has since moved to Costa Mesa, California, Chris hasn’t stopped seeking out projects with other creatives. Spending those early days surrounded by other musicians and working hands on in various studios, he picked up a lot of invaluable experience in audio production. “There’s a lot of knowledge that you can learn from people in the industry that’s only gonna help make you better, if you’re willing to accept it… you know there are a lot of egos in the music world and we all don’t know everything… but we can all benefit I think. We bring different things to the table.” Some of his first solo recording projects consisted of what he considers to be, audio portraits. Over time, he’d come across people who had interesting voices or stories to tell and would invite them in to sit down and record a conversation on a subject they were passionate about. Looking back now, it seems that it was here where he first laid the seeds for what would eventually become Forecast Gallery. Much of that same intent from the early days of experimenting with story recording is visible in the projects he approaches now.
Forecast Gallery has been working on launching a comedy podcast and has released a literary interview series in conjunction with us here at Wavelength. In regard to the literary interview series, Point of Departure, Chris has made it his goal to highlight writers in the Dallas literary community. “I like the idea of bringing in the talent in this town [especially] with poetry really catching a wave, and rightly so. People are really creative, and I mean what is songwriting? You know if someone is maybe not a musician but they have something to say, poetry is a great avenue for that.” Through Forecast Gallery, Chris has settled into an area of audio production that allows him to pursue projects that reflect all of his interests from music to poetry to film. With Dallas creatives taking the initiative to make things happen here in the city, the opportunity for new projects seem endless.
You can find Spora Junket’s new album, Wormwood and Cardoon, on Bandcamp where it is also available for purchase on vinyl.