Shana Cleveland has been beguiling listeners for years in her role as the superlative frontwoman for elastic surf rockers La Luz. Now Cleveland is evolving her sound on the new solo full-length Night of the Worm Moon, a serene album that flows like a warm current while simultaneously wresting open a portal to another dimension.
As much a work of California sci-fi as Octavia Butler’s Parable novels, Night of the Worm Moon incorporates everything from alternate realities to divine celestial bodies. Inspired in part by one of her musical idols, the Afro-futurist visionary Sun Ra (the album’s title is a tip of the hat to his 1970 release Night of the Purple Moon), the record blends pastoral folk with cosmic concerns.
Cleveland dreamt up this premise while living in Los Angeles, a city where--as deftly explored on La Luz’s recent Floating Features--reality and fantasy casually co-exist. One particularly evocative scene laid the groundwork for Night of the Worm Moon’s psychedelic undercurrents. As Cleveland tells it, “Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles I went to a hip hotel to watch a poolside screening of a documentary about a local alien-worshiping cult. Out front celebrities were getting out of the backs of cars and rushing past autograph hounds into some roped-off room where a secret dinner was about to commence