Mood Tattooed


Mood Tattooed - No Compromise

Gerard Marcus

Brooklyn-based Mood Tattooed is a musical project which balances elements of electronic synthesis, American folk tendencies, and fluid song structure to create music that sounds free of constraints. Written by singer-songwriter and composer Hagan Knauth, his music is generally melancholic, dealing with themes of both internal and external fear and anxiety. His new music video for “No Compromise” explores these themes visually. Made in collaboration with videographer Matthew Sullivan and artist Margaret Pinto, the video follows an alien being as it explores the forest and small towns of rural upstate New York. The creature is immediately odd juxtaposed against its surroundings. In a statement from the artist, he says he “wanted the creature to appear inefficient and out of place in the landscape,” which gives the character an enjoyable sense of absurdity. As you watch it move through the wilderness of rural upstate New York, it just seems odd, less of an immediate threat than just a confused being clearly in the wrong place. It’s almost funny, until you realize the creature’s mission, which is to collect various objects and eventually abduct a human for a bizarre ritual of unknown purpose (except to the creature performing it). Who or what is this creature? What is it doing here? Should we judge it based off of its absurdity or its actions? There are all good questions with no definite answer, other than to pull it back to themes found in the music. In the words of the artist himself, “perhaps the fact that the creature is simultaneously threatening and laughably absurd is all a metaphor for the little monsters we make in our heads.”

REVIEW: Mood Tattooed - Hush Tarantula

Kelly Kirwan

Hagan Knauth's latest album is an ode to nature's grand design. A tapestry of acoustic-sounding guitar plucks, soft background coos, instrumental layering, and equal measures of psychedelia and woodsy, folk-inspired melodies. His songs have the feel of wide open spaces; there's an echoing quality that unassumingly slinks its way into so many of his tracks, a sense of resonance that fuels this notion of freedom in vast expanses. The lush acres of upstate New York that served as Knauth's childhood playground clearly left a strong imprint, a one-with-nature stance that's trickled into both his music and current lifestyle in Brooklyn.

Under the artistic pseudonym Mood Tattooed, Knauth's latest piece of work, Hush Tarantula, comes across as a freestyle Bildungsroman—a journey of growth, exploration, and self-discovery that comes with the peaceful introspection of basking in the near-perfect symmetry of the wild. Each track bustles with unconventional garnishes and sonic accents that have often been filtered through a synthesizer for a strikingly offbeat effect. It's a balance of intimacy and buzz that feels like a forest chorus feeding off an amiable chaos. And even in this free-for-all setting, there's still a sense that every detail is in its rightful place.

So often, psychedelia is tied to the decade of its burgeoning heyday. The 1960s were a politically-charged time, riddled with social strife and halting strides towards justice. Yet still, when we think of psych-rock and it's modern variations, there's that quick flit to Woodstock and it's mud-splattered acid trip. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, it just doesn't seem to be the path that Knauth has taken with the genre. The out-of-body, higher-plane experience that he alludes to is much more rooted in the spiritual than a synthetic tablet. His opening track, "Lamplight," is a quick (roughly one minute) taste of what lies ahead. In lieu of audible lyrics there are staccato breaths, with the reverberating ting of a metal guitar string acting as the prominent instrumental accompaniment. It's a song that gives an inkling of something new, somewhere between the tinkering chords and introductory gasps of life.

Then there's "Shelly Ripple," which is rich with sonic versatility. It's folk meets eclectic synth, opening with Knauth's layered vocals, "I'm warming up to you," before plunging into a smorgasbord of sound. There are cameos of fluttering falsettos and an electronically-manipulated baritone, which appears beside hollow hand percussion and a rattlesnake kind of shimmy. It’s a multifaceted track that envelops, a ritual that thrives off unexpected textures. It alternates between lyrics and a stuttering sort of language that we wouldn't immediately recognize. And yet, it still has the air of a welcome invitation.  

Knauth’s album is a force to be reckoned with. It pulses with unpredictability and a sense of wonder, and it'll leave you itching for a taste of life outside the city.