“The desert and its resilience, its need-not-of-anyone… I feel like it’s a part of me,” Kristina Moore says. Listening to the music she makes as kolezanka (a Polish word that can mean either friend or colleague), you can hear the desert playing through her. Her ghostly music feels nocturnal, expansive and sparse, like the Arizona desert at midnight.
The singer is in a reflective, almost-nostalgic mood: She’ll be moving from the Valley in just four weeks to join her other band, Triathalon, in New York. New York’s gain is our loss: Moore’s kolezanka is one of the most distinctive and bewitching groups in the Valley’s music scene.
While Moore is the voice and writer of kolezanka’s songs, the core of the group is a trio: Moore, Winter Calkins, and Ark Calkins. Their chemistry as a group is on full display in the group’s 2017 full-length, Vessel. A spectral, lovely record, Vessel uses subtle percussion (ticking away like the kind of primitive click tracks you’d hear on Young Marble Giants songs), Moore’s limber voice, and guitars and electronics that weave through the tracks with atmospheric, dreamy flourishes. At times, it feels like a long-lost classic slowcore album. The songs on Vessel are full of vivid imagery: charging ghosts, hooks caught in mouths, out-of-control cars. It’s helium balloon music: airy, floating, and liable to pull you up into the stratosphere with it if you don’t let go of the string.
Moore says she draws inspiration for her songs from the noise of the world.
“When I need inspiration, I try to take a lot of time alone in certain environments,” she says. “New York was especially a profound inspiration this year because it’s so loud. There’s constant movement and stimuli. I found that to be really inspiring when I felt like I couldn’t think about what I wanted. I think that sometimes a lot of sounds around you will create tones and pitch and melodies. I find myself being on the train, listening to conversations, and someone has a funny laugh at the same time the brakes screech or when the stop alarm goes off. The way those things harmonize makes something happen in my brain.”
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The band will be releasing a new EP called Disengagement this Sunday at their farewell show at Valley Bar (Nanami Ozone, Herbert Walker, and Like Diamonds are also on the bill). They've posted a single on their Bandcamp, "Things to Do at 3AM," that offers a taste of Disengagement's more stripped-down and raw approach .
“It’s super crudely recorded,” Moore says of the new EP. “Arkie and I recorded it in his house with minimal mics and minimal plug-ins for mixing. On some of the songs I’m demoing myself—I’m working out of my iPad microphone at one point.” Moore thinks the minimal process fit thematically with what Disengagement is about. “It felt like a really organic way to come out of Phoenix with one last thing.”
While Moore is planning to focus her efforts on Triathalon when she moves to NYC, she’s not closing the book on kolezanka. “Ark and Winter told me that I can always send them things and we can collaborate across the country,” Moore says. “I’m never going to stop writing; I don’t think it’s even possible for me to stop. Making your own music never dies.”
When asked about what she’ll miss most about the Valley, Moore talks about fellow bands like Willetta in the scene, her family, and her bandmates. But she also admits to feeling nostalgic about two unexpected things.
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“The insistent summer dread, I’ll somehow strangely miss,” Moore muses. “Commiserating together about how fucking hot it is. I will miss the power going out in the Garfield neighborhood and getting drunk on your friend’s porch with everyone you know just so you can sleep that night because it’s so hot during the monsoon season.”
The other thing Moore says she’ll miss? Pools.
“I’ll miss all the swimming pools, even though I’ve only swam twice this year,” she laughs. “Just knowing you can is really important. Because there are no swimming pools in New York. Someone told me there is one but I still haven’t seen it.”