RE:View :: Moses Sumney

Opening for Hundred Waters at the Electric Owl.

Hallowed and true, this man has a piece of my heart after last night’s performance.

Moses Sumney is ripped-open – raw poetry. He is delicious, authentic and brave in both musical material and stage presence. From deep rolling lows to the steadiest highs, he plucks each chord of my heart as he hits each note with his enchanting voice.

Add in the looping and layering and this one-man act transforms into an entire gospel. He is redefining what it is to be a solo musician. In this way, with a loop/effects pedal, Sumney lays down his own back bones n’ beats, which is incredible to witness: starting with a mmm-tap, mmm-tap, leaking into a lick-of-the-lips smack-smack, adding a quick heart-beat rap-tap, and a mmmm-dauyum, tap-tap, repeat in the boss looper, record into a voice effects box, add some high heeees, low wobble-weee and throw on the vocals. He is creating such juicy, unique music.

Self-harmonizing and beat-box looping is a skill he has mastered. I can only imagine how many hoursdaysweeksmonths Sumney must have spent (and must still spend) with his looping to get to this point of brilliance and control.

Then there are the songs that are single layered, simple and captivating in their own ways. Performing “Plastic,” Sumney dropped so low he began to sing in a haunted whisper. (“Plastic“)

The dude is pure poetry. A word of caution for so many of his songs, especially when experienced live: they induce full body shivers, leaving you vibrating in ripe gig-gasms. This is powerful stuff.


Visually, Moses Somney might be best described as a modern day, L.A. version of Jean-Michel Basquiat. With the hair-doo, twisted and deliberate, such as Basquiat’s creative mohawk, only a little tamer. And the rough, not-so-serious doodles he did on each individual CD he sold reminded me a tad of Basquiat’s intentionally childish art. The man knows how to have a good time. He has a joyful, melodic disposition.

And he is a gorgeous man, that Moses Sumney. There is no denying that his full, moaning lips – vibrating in the frequency of his own musical creation – might just be the spiciest part of his performance. Or how he tends to use those lips, and tongue – for sounds and beats, oh but of course… leaves a girl to imagine… And the way he moves, slow and freaky-like. Gentle, with unpredictable hands massaging the air surrounding him. Eyes close, eyes open. He lives within what he creates. He is all in.

His character is pure witchcraft. Does he even know it? Perhaps he is under his own spell, casting himself into the layers of his loop pedal. He moves in witchcraft movements; step one foot up side, hand drag down the belly, hand hold out and float light step, step, eyes close, side slow move.  Does he know he moves like this?

Lithe as a jaguar, steady as a sea turtle.

His cadence, everything he creates, is in his character; the music and the man appear to be entirely interwoven. Authentic expression, deep truths and undeniable talent.

If ever you get the chance to see Moses Sumney, you just must. And hug him after the show. He is truly a lovely, skilled dude.

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