In bringing a Fine Arts background to both his songwriting and approach to recording, Seattle based songwriter, painter, and sculptor Zach Harjo imbues his work with concepts more typical of the visual artist while maintaining the musical standards of a classic songwriter. Harjo’s debut Black Moon evokes a cinematic world in which Harjo sets vignette-like, interlocking stories through contrasting textures, negative space and mass, imagery, tonal contrast, archetypal, personal, and Homeric iconography.
Today Harjo shares the title track of the upcoming release (dropping September 9th). Beautifully weaved together as a sculpture in progress, “Black Moon” weaves indie-rock, folk, and Americana into a rich tapestry of hook laden melodies, deep grooves, and soulful harmonies.
Harjo said on the single: “The song ‘Black Moon’ came together very quickly in December of 2020 and was the last song I wrote for the record. It felt immediately like the title track. I wanted this song to sonically capture the mood of the record as a whole and to lyrically represent the heightened state of existential dread of that time. It was the middle of the pandemic and everything was upside down.
It was one of those songs where the lyrics just tumbled out, seeming to write themselves almost effortlessly. And I love the little reference to Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?”. This track ties together and references the major themes of the record: mortality, self-medication, the senselessness of tragedy. There’s also a little mention of an ocean, another theme: disaster at sea and the siren section of The Odyssey.”
Black Moon was recorded and produced with Harjo’s long-time collaborator, the renowned multi-instrumentalist Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray, Sera Cahoone, Isabell Campbell), who played everything from drums to banjo, marxophone to omnichord, programmed beats and arranged mellotron strings and horns. The acclaimed drummer and engineer Eric Eagle (Jesse Sykes, Wayne Horvitz) mixed the record and contributed percussion and additional parts. Harmonies and backing vocals were provided by singer songwriter Tekla Waterfield (Trouble in Time, The Curtain Falls), Fielder’s wife and musical partner.
Black Moon is a record that explores existential dread and the human condition, that processes loss through creation. It points at the ridiculousness of our self-importance, implicating humanity, while including itself in the critique. It is a fever dream that develops layers of connection and meaning between songs through repeated listening and unravels themes universal in their specificity. “Records that are important to me are like scripture” says Harjo. “Art can become either religion or myth. Myth can become either religion or art. I wanted Black Moon to be a meditation on a catastrophe, a window through which to contemplate the void and a parable of the fragility of existence I consider Black Moon to be less a collection of songs and more as the scenes of a short film, my hope is that it can be seen as you listen.”