Run For Cover is a weekly music column comparing cover songs to the original version. Prepare for a major bending of rules as we hear musicians throw around genres, tempos, style, and intent. Whether they’re picking up another’s song out of respect or boredom, the results have impressed us.
When someone hears Black Moth Super Rainbow’s name for the first time, they scoff. What else can you do when you hear a band name that sounds like an original first grade play, something that would be acted front and center on a jungle gym bridge during recess to wide-eyed classmates and very patient teachers.
Black Moth Super Rainbow are more than an enigma.
Pittsburgh gave birth to the psychedelic experimental band in 2003, and they’ve hid behind masks and Halloween-esque outfits while performing ever since. Each member has taken on a pseudo name, the most famous being Tobacco (the songwriter and singer), Ryan Graveface (the guitarist), and The Seven Fields of Aphelion (their keyboardist).
Vocoders, synths, and a Mellotron create that hazy, thick sound that makes their style so recognizable.
Although it was released in 2007, Dandelion Gum remains their most well-known album. The song transitions run smoothly, and the album peaks with their hit “Sun Lips.”
Toronto-based record label Hand Drawn Dracula scraped together Holy Fuck, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and Shugo Tokumaro to put out a project in 2011 called Vicious Circles Vol. 1 for free (!) on their website.
It’s an imaginative, five song, I’ll-cover-your-song-if-you-play-mine release.
33-year-old Shugo Tokumaro is a multi-instrumentalist whose talent is that of someone much older than him, and his creativity is that of someone much younger. His music—which is entirely written, recorded, produced, and mixed by himself—brings sounds from over 100 different instruments, many of which are non-traditional (how you doin’, wooden fish?).
His cover of “Sun Lips” is an explosion of orchestral pop, any extra splatter wiped clean with a wet cloth. Tokumaro goes from a heavily electronic song to an experimental folk track. Muted congo-like drums, dusty kazoo, banjo, guitar, hand claps, and bass guitar all help carry the song in what feels like a song of exploration for an alternate ending of Where the Wild Things Are or Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Unexpectedly, the hallucinogenic song becomes redone as a childlike folk pop piece. Looking at Tokumaro music videos (like the impressive one for “Katachi”), it’s reasonable to hope he will put one out for this. I can only imagine what fun it would be.