This full-length debut by the band from Baton Rouge, La., is a frothy concoction, but an acquired taste. Soprano Jessica Ramsey's amazing off-kilter trilling is cradled in intricate art-rock arrangements, like a songbird trapped in a net of thorns.
Some listeners might find Ramsey's vocal acrobatics reminiscent of Björk's or Kate Bush's or even Nina Hagen's, but she's in the process of developing her own style. She can alternate from singing sweet melodies to unleashing a witchy howl within a few notes. Ramsey fronts the band with guitarist Andrew Martin, apparently under the influence of orchestral music, French impressionism and epic Russian literature. Drummer Jermaine Butler and bassist-keyboardist Jeffrey Livingston bring interests in African and Middle Eastern music as well as hip-hop to the mix.
The result is rich and complex, but also challenging. Moon Honey's music demands attentive, patient listening; it's not for casual pop fans. "She Touched the Hem of His Garment" and "The Ship" are deeply orchestrated, multipart indulgences in classic '70s prog, with floating strings and robust rock riffing, not unlike the work of the band Renaissance.
Among the best tunes here is the dynamic "Lady Lazarus." The scope of "The Two Fridas" has the flavor of the Beatles' most psychedelic excursions, with a little of Evanescence's hard-rock drama for oomph.