Tan Cologne is the the musical project of experimental art tandem Lauren Green and Marissa Macias. Based out of the high desert town of Taos, their debut LP Cave Vaults On The Moon In New Mexico is an immersive concept album that explores the terrestrial, spatial, and spiritual elements of their native Land of Enchantment. Recorded in two locations, a 250-year old adobe fortress and a separate casita in Northern New Mexico, their first musical collaboration conjures up a constant state of dream-pop hypnosis, full of swooning hooks and ghostly mantras that stay with you long after they fade into the night.
As one might presume, Cave Vaults is an inherently nocturnal album. One glance at its stark cover and peculiar title and you can vividly imagine what the record sounds like: hallucinogenic guitar tones, both drony and dreamy, mesmerizing reverb-laden vocal melodies, and panoramic instrumental dreamscapes that transport you to a mysterious place. But for all its apparent darkness, the album is anything but ominous. In fact, it’s brimming with bright sounds and beautiful song ideas. The swells of synths and crystalline guitars on the opening cut, “Cave Vaults On The New Moon In New Mexico,” signal the ascension into Tan Cologne’s alternate dimension, in which you’ll find a mix of astral slow jams and subtle shoegaze grooves. On subsequent tracks, the trance-inducing litany of “Strange God” and the zombie-rock of “Empty Vessels” offer a deeper look into how humans interact with the complex metaphysical concepts of life on and beyond earth, such as the natural elements, other life forms, and the possibility of heaven.
On a surface level, it’s easy to dismiss the music Green and Macias are making as really stoned-out pieces of pop psychedelia. But once you confront just how alien and sublime the material on Cave Vaults really is, the record begins to reveal its otherworldly charm. These songs aren’t backed by instrumentals, but rather, individual atmospheres, each belonging to a larger sonic universe with many layers. The inviting rhythms on “Alien” and the celestial shuffle of “New Dune” ground the album’s levitational pull while amplifying its depth. In contrast, “Quartz of Rose” and closing track “Monsoon” sound suspended in stillness.