Essential New Music: Moses Sumney’s “Aromanticism”

In the video for his single “Doomed,” Moses Sumney performs submerged in azure water, lit softly from above (or is it within?) as if he’s a fetal offspring of the benevolent extraterrestrials from The Abyss. It’s the perfect visual accompaniment for his amniotic anthem, which plays like the sonogram soundtrack every expectant parent hears in their head: four subtle synth murmurs underscoring Sumney’s ultrasonic falsetto, itself a chest-tightening miracle of nature. Given the crystalline perfection of that track, this conceptual debut LP first comes across as a willfully obscure abstraction, an oblong listen with snatches of new-age spoken word, prog-jazz wandering and urban field recordings deliberately halting any conventional momentum. But repeated spins reveal an exotic, intoxicating soup: Sumney can summon Jim James, Thom Yorke and Nick Drake without sounding precisely like any of them, and the nebulous music begins to resemble a magnetic field that follows him around, changing its shape to fit his many moods.

Noah Bonaparte Pais