Twin sisters Cat and Carrie Biell know a lot about boldness. As queer artists, they’re vocal about engaging in political and feminist causes, never ones to shy away from speaking their piece about what enrages or excites them. As children of Deaf parents, they filled their home with music from a young age, with Carrie now working with the blind and deaf to find employment. As a cohesive unit, they’re rounded out by two other bold women, Jude Miqueli (drums), who is an elementary school teacher/drum instructor at Queer & Trans Youth Music Program and Darcey Zoller (cello, synth), a badass art director, set decorator, and prop stylist. As Moon Palace, they’re absolutely intoxicating.
The Seattle band made their name making rambling psychedelia that feels more apt to exist among dusty deserts and sprawling canyons rather than the Pacific Northwest’s grey and green-hued damp landscape. Their 2017 self-titled debut was said to be inspired by Cat’s desert dreams with a motif of “vast landscapes, the invisible forces in the universe that affect us all, and how we relate to each other.” Proving it wasn’t just a one-off fluke, the phenomenal record is being followed up by another tremendous album, Shadowcast, set for release on August 23.
The record’s lead single, “Bold,” sonically takes less from its namesake than expected, with the Biells’ hushed and haunted vocals lingering like a ghost. Cat claims the song is a “nostalgic feeling for a time when you felt more carefree” which is represented in the repeating line “To be / To be bold again.” Is it boldness of childhood she longs for? A time before you learned how to be self-conscious. Or perhaps the boldness of first love? A time before you experienced the crushing torment of heartbreak or learned the complex realities of relationships. Either way, you can never fully go back.
This ghostly presence is felt throughout Shadowcast, which trades desert canyons for a scene less palpably precise. To me, it feels like Moon Palace has transported us not only out of the desert but out of the waking world entirely. If our dreams had a soundtrack, this could be it. An eerie, foreboding feeling is present throughout the record that reminds me of all the times I’ve visited my childhood home in my dream and woke with a nostalgic haze of sadness. Or received an appearance from an ex that I just can’t shake, except his face is blurry and he refuses to talk to me. Throughout it, the Biells & Co. are beside me - spirit guides leading me through a strange world cast in shadows.
Personally, I think the boldest thing one can do is continuing to live brazenly after going through the tough experiences and realizing the difficult truths of the world. It’s easy to be carefree when the world hasn’t kicked you in the face yet. I’m sure Moon Palace knows this, being the intrepid humans that they are. But, for now, they’re reveling in the shadowy worlds of memories and dreams and that’s quite alright. Like a fly to a lightbulb, the warm glow of nostalgia can be incredibly intoxicating.
Moon Palace will play Capitol Hill Block Party this Saturday, July 20 at 4:30 on Wild Rose's stage focusing on GLBTQ+ artists. The Shadowcast release show will take place on Friday, September 20 at the Clock-Out Lounge.
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