Image via Valerie Chaika

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Anenon began his career examining the intersections of modern classical, jazz, and electronic music. The Los Angeles resident, born Brian Allen Simon, was initially close to the beat scene, as his first two major records were released on L.A. staple Friend of Friends, then the home for artists like Shlohmo and Groundislava. But unlike those musicians—or even Low End Theory mainstays like Flying Lotus—Simon took an almost Reichian approach to his compositions. His suites build tension through repetition and layering instead of beat drops and speaker-rattling bass.

On his first full-length release with FoF, 2016’s Petrol, Simon imagined Los Angeles from his own car window, noticing the thousands of automobiles he’d pass each day, isolated in mass commute. ‘What does that sound like?’ Petrol asks. In 2018, he shared Tongue, which stripped some of the electronic and jazz flourishes in favor of a more chamber-focused record, inspired by a retreat in Italy where he recorded the album. On Anenon’s latest release, Moons Melt Milk Light, Anenon decided to entirely remove the computer from his arsenal, instead building the record around piano, saxophone, and field recordings captured on long walks through the city.

His first release for Tonal Union is entirely instrumental like all Anenon albums. But Simon has a unique way of conveying emotions without uttering a syllable. There’s a dramatic tension to the way he holds onto ideas then discards them, like on the opener “Untitled Skies” where saxophone notes buzz like bees swarming out of a dislodged hive. The recording is so intimate—Simon tracked it at his kitchen table, entirely improvised—you can hear his fingers clicking the keys as tones emerge from his horn at a stunning pace. Slowly, then all at once, a gorgeous minor key melody completely shifts the spirit of the song.

On “Champeix,” captured rain sounds give way to a patient piano melody before a moody horn dissolves the song’s structure. Simon pits dueling solos against each other, searching for chaotic beauty. At one moment, he sounds like Grouper. In the next, he sounds like Sonny Rollins. It’s an enchanting contradiction that sits at the heart of Moons Melt Milk Light. On it, Brian Allen Simon consistently interrogates perfection, highlighting any tensions or inconsistencies he can find. He delights in these flaws. It’s what makes art like this impossible to duplicate. These are blemishes that a computer can’t replicate. They are flawless.

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