Denver's Moon Magnet Studios sparkles: Aluminum foil covers every inch of space where there isn't a musical instrument or a soundboard, and streamers cascade down from the ceiling. It's in this studio that producer and musician Reed Fuchs successfully pitched a single song, "Womb of the Dawn," to the folks at the tape label Custom Made Music. With that under his belt, Fuchs decided to turn one song into a compilation tape.
Moon Magnet Comp Vol. 4 was pulled together in just a few days, with over 33 artists contributing to the work. Acts include Retrofette, Rubedo, Dandu, King Eddie, Venus Cruz, members of Esmé Patterson's band, Mini Mansions, JJUUJJUU, Sound of Ceres/Candy Claws, Ancient Elk and
The tape will be ready for release at the Underground Music Showcase on Friday, July 27, but if you're needing a psych-rock roller coaster today, you can stream the album exclusively here:
Moon Magnet's musical multiverse is a wild place, full of oyster costumes, performance art, music compilations, psych-rock, Denver musicians, surrealist bands and more. All of this seemed impossible last year when Moon Magnet's previous space was torn down to make way for an apartment complex.
"We were like, is this the end of Moon Magnet?" Fuchs says. The destruction of DIY spaces in Denver troubles Fuchs, but the collective survived the move and since then has produced 36 records.
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This particular compilation sounds like a crazy psychedelic ride at an amusement park. "It feels like you are going up in an elevator and you stop at every floor and you see something shocking on some floors, and you’re like, 'What is going on?' — and others you’re like, 'Oh, I can get into this. This is my vibe,'" Fuchs says.
There were hardly rules and no genre preference when it came to putting this album together. Fuchs jokes that there was one stipulation: No power chords. "They are like kryptonite to me. I don’t know what kryptonite does, actually, but it’s my kryptonite. It makes me weak. They aren’t a gimmick; I’m just so sick of them. ... I just think they're boring, and they don’t make you uncomfortable. ... I need to stop talking about this. I seem like a hater [laughs]."
He has a hard time choosing which one of the songs was his favorite to produce or master when the album was pressed. But the song "Ray Gun," by Wall of Ears, has a wild backstory that perfectly encapsulates the Moon Magnet Collective.
"As Cities Burn were my favorite band in high school," says Fuchs. "We played a show in Seattle with this awesome band called Wall of Ears. We hit it off and stayed at their house. I saw an As Cities Burn poster on the wall, and I was like, how do you know about them?" Fuchs says. "And he goes, 'Oh, that was my band!' And we’ve been really good friends ever since. I asked him to put a song on the comp, and he said, 'Yeah,' and I think that ['Ray Guns'] is my favorite."
About half of the songs on the compilation are unreleased, and it was a collaborative process putting them together. "Everyone is really nice in Denver and open to collaboration. Something I’ve noticed about Denver that is different from other cities is people want to help each other, and it’s not competitive. Everyone just wants everyone to make the best art possible and play shows together and throw memorable experiences."
That's why Fuchs strives to make each Moon Magnet event an experience beyond just music. "I want our shows to feel like happenings," he says. "In the ’70s, there was a mishmash of all mediums of art in a room. There was magic, performance art... . I want our shows to be uncomfortable but inspiring and ecstatic."
He recalls one show where people brushed each other's teeth: "We had a toothbrushing station and an eye-gazing station and had special drinks you could order called Cosmic Pineapple and Moon Hammer. The idea was to incorporate all the five senses. We had a fragrance artist, and she mixed whatever scent you wanted onto you."
At this year's Underground Music Showcase, Moon Magnet has planned a MoonHammer day party on Saturday, July 28, at the Irish Rover. The collective will put on a surrealist Show and Tell, as well as "Blind Date Meets." "Musicians get paired together, and anyone is welcome to come and put their name in the hat and perform," Fuchs explains.
If that's not enough oddity for you, make sure to attend the déCollage show on Sunday, July 29. It's Fuchs's own band that he has been playing in for nine years.
"We are going to serve oysters to the audience. But we always do that," he says. "We love oysters. We have a dancing oyster costume. It was made by Natalie Wetzel. She makes costumes for Flaming Lips, too, and Miley Cyrus. She makes the craziest costumes."
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Sitting in the chaos of the man-made outer space of Moon Magnet Studios, you wonder how Fuchs has time for all these different musical dabblings. Outside of just playing shows and creating records, the collective has a residency at Alamo Drafthouse where it showcases different musicians and artists. In October's edition, the group is premiering its surrealist reality-TV series Cosmic Pineapple, about life around Moon Magnet. Some of the songs on the new compilation diverge from this dream space — and the mythical band from the series has a song on Vol. 4.
The mix between reality and play knows no boundaries for Fuchs and the collective. When you listen through the compilation, you'll forget where one song started and another began, even though they are so vibrant in their musical diversity. While Fuchs is proud of the tape release, he acknowledges it's just the beginning of a busy season.
"A mountain of content is about to come out," he says, "and I’m really excited about it."
Underground Music Showcase, July 27 to 29, various venues on South Broadway.