Author: Robert Force, Albert d'Ossché
Date/Studio: 1984 Altman, San Francisco, CA
Engineer: Sandy Stone
Producer: Robert Force
Original Release: When the Moon Fell on California (KM318)
Current Release: The Complete Recordings (BSR 158)
I think this tune is an exciting composition for the dulcimer-- for any instrument, actually. I only know of one other person besides myself who learned it well enough to play it-- Quintin Stephens. It's his tab for the tune that is included in the PDF section. The tune starts off hard-driving and then abruptly morphs into being tantalizingly spacey (but with form!) and then snaps back out of Albert's wandering chord suspensions into a quick-chord-change, high-precision-performance rhythm.
The tune is unique in that its highly syncopated beat blends cultural influences, flirting with both rock n' roll and salsa. The suspended chords are a d'Ossché trademark and legacy. Flirt is the right word. Tease would be another. He loved stepping out of a song's timing and going, stolen time, rubato. If you count the meters, he still brings it back “on time” but only after a melody-challenging bird-walk. He reveled in hints of discord, like a shy kiss.
There was a time when he and I and Janette and her college and high school pals, Gina and Cecilia, lived together in a house in Eugene, OR. It was the middle 70s and we were all dirt poor. The girls found a fake Persian rug for free at a garage sale and carried it home. What a score! We were climbing into the middle class. One day Janette came in and saw Albert sitting on the rug, talking on the phone. He was also coloring in one of the patterns with a blue, ball-point pen.
“What are you doing?!” she practically screamed at him. Non-plussed he looked up and replied, “Real Persian rugs have imperfections woven into them. Only God can be perfect. I am fixing this one.” To this day whenever I see a Persian rug I search for that one small part where the pattern of the weave or the coloring has been intentionally broken. Albert colored on this song in this same way.
Eight years later when he wrote this tune he was living in Santa Cruz, CA and helping to restore the 1911 Looff carousel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Janette, Dakotah and I had just moved down to Felton, CA. He wanted Dakotah to ride the carousel and for me to check out his workplace. He led me to a place under the roller coaster where the tracks bottomed out after a long plunge, just six inches above our heads. “Hey Flaco, stand here. Wait.”
Down came the train. “Ahh,” he said after it had passed. “I come here a few times every day to clear my head.” Moon Void has that rush.
Everything was fair game for song material in the exploration of what Albert called, “woo-woo”. He'd say that with hands and fingers outspread, quavering voice and a rolling of the eyes. Pseudoscience was particularly unsafe from his attention. He could go on for hours about Reagan's then “voo-doo” economics. What fertile ground! (An unreleased tune on that subject was recorded for Moon Fell.)
The Void-of-Course Moon is an concept from Astrology. There are approximately 13 Void Moon periods per month, lasting from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the placements of the planets. The moon is supposed to govern feelings and in these void times has no planet to co-influence what we feel. During this time one can ostensibly become emotionally distant-- gapped in time.
Oh he loved that! For a few minutes or a few hours, whenever he wanted, he could claim, “Must be a Moon Void.” Nothing is clear. Nothing is certain. No feelings exist to govern action. Of course you would need the accompanying sound track of his, “woo-woo,” and the hand and eye visual to fully appreciate the importance of that moment. Moon Void, the tune, takes us on this journey from the drive of action into the (woo-woo) shifting sands of uncertainty.