Lifetime of Love is the debut album by Moon Diagrams, the solo recording project of Deerhunter co-founder and drummer Moses John Archuleta. Co-released by Sonic Cathedral and Geographic North, it was recorded in Georgia (Atlanta and Athens) and New York (Manhattan’s East Village) and gradually pieced together over a ten-year period. It finds Archuleta processing various stages of love, loss and regeneration via forlorn outsider pop, minimal techno and warm, weightless experimentation.
Hymnal opener “Playground” has echoes of Eno and Grouper; lengthy workouts such as “The Ghost and the Host” recall long-lost Harmonia outtakes, or something from one of Warp’s Artificial Intelligence compilations; the bitter pill pop of “End of Heartache” has the scratchy guitar of New Order circa Brotherhood and the square pegness of Dazzle Ships-era OMD. Several songs are instrumental, while “Bodymaker” features Sian Ahern (Eaux, Sian Alice Group).
Throughout the album’s eight tracks, Archuleta follows sudden fits of inspiration or moments of chance, letting the unknown happen naturally, while still confining himself to
a set of boundaries. Samples were taken from thrift store- sourced LPs, removed from their sleeves and chosen at random to find loops and textures. Elsewhere, he would anonymise digital songs and files, erasing track names and re-recording new versions of the randomised mixes.
Lifetime of Love is actually the result of three extended fugue states, each marked by a specific moment of catharsis. In 2007, between the release of Deerhunter’s breakthrough album Cryptograms and 2008’s Microcastle, Archuleta began his earliest solo experiments. The nascent exploration was enough to free himself and create sounds without inhibition. “Bodymaker” and “Nightmoves” are products of these first recording sessions, capturing Archuleta’s willingness to venture outside of the taut, mesmerising drone-rock of his main band. The chilling, ambient techno of “Nightmoves” perfectly foils and compliments “Bodymaker”’s broodingly sullen but sincerely beautiful shuffle into the dark.
Between 2012 and 2015, Archuleta experienced a reset of sorts following the collapse of his marriage (a ten-year relationship). Tours in support of artists including Ariel Pink and James Ferraro led to a rekindled interest in his solo material and he began actively cutting himself off from a number of personal relationships and experimenting with various drugs in order to begin recording again. Locking himself in his practice space, Archuleta would use only the spare instruments he found lying around in recording sessions. This period yielded a disparate mix of sonic sketches, from eerily bucolic choir recordings (“Playground”), to dusty art-pop (“Moon Diagrams”) and infectiously jubilant dance pop (“End of Heartache”).
For the final period, Archuleta found inspiration following an extended stint in Berlin, after he had decided to fly out of the US on Christmas day, largely estranging himself from his friends and family. While holed up in the Michelberger Hotel, Archuleta fully intended to finish the album. Instead, he remained in a state of relative isolation, haunting the hotel and taking in
the city’s dark energy. After three weeks, Archuleta returned home to Atlanta, without having made much headway. Feeling unproductive, depressed and disorientated by jet lag, Archuleta resolved to finish the LP, working in a three-day flurry of productivity that resulted in “Blue Ring”, “The Ghost and the Host”, “Magic Killer” and the final album edits.
Subtly grandiose and quietly epic, Lifetime of Love really does live up to its title: a hopeful and curious beginning makes way for a morose middle before a bittersweet, optimistic end.