Now/It's: Something to Listen to - 'Moon Paradise, Vol. 2' by Diamond Carter

One of the modern age’s greatest ills has finally come to a definitive close. Billy McFarland, founder of the hilariously misguided (and ultimately failed) Insta-influencer-friendly Fyre Festival, was officially sentenced to six years on federal prison. If you don’t remember, that’s okay - considering the modern news cycle’s tendency to move in zeptoseconds (that’s a trillionth of a billionth of a second for those keeping track) - we’ll do a quick rundown in service of the overall lead.

For those who fail to recall, Fyre Festival was arguably the greatest First World debacle of 2017. McFarland and his business partner, Ja Rule (Chappelle’s “I don’t want to dance, I’m scared to death!” was never more poignant), endeavored to create the world’s first “luxury music festival” to promote their Fyre music booking app. Set on the Bahamian isle of Great Exuma, and endorsed by societal stalwarts Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, Fyre Festival was “an immersive music festival…. Two transformative weekends…. On the boundaries of the impossible.”

First off, what the hell does “On the boundaries of impossible” mean? That’s a red flag if for nothing else, sensational vaguery. Second, out of the entire hierarchy of topline artists in the world, the fact Ja Rule was the big draw should have sent most festival attendees far from the purported Caribbean paradise (like it did most prospective investors).

Things went south fast, as vendors and artists alike dropped out of the festival, and many of the attendees were left stranded on Great Exuma with little to no means of escape, left to spend a couple of days living like refugees, albeit, refugees with rich parents who undoubtedly gave a good reaming to McFarland, Ja, and the Bahamian tourism board.

Perhaps it was a sobering reality necessary for those particularly entitled festi-types, but in the end, everyone at the very least made it back safely. Whether or not they recouped their costs, who knows? McFarland, on the other hand, most certainly did not, as his recent conviction saw the court order tally his repay number at $26 million, on top of the prison sentence.

Anyway, we’re not here for an entire retelling of the Fyre Festival fallout (that’s what Wikipedia is for), but the gloriously aristocratic debacle does serve as a strong prompt for our true matter at hand.

As Hollywood and filmmakers alike become more and more hellbent on producing dramatizations of current events almost instantaneously (looking at you, Paul Greengrass), one can only assume that a Fyre Festival biopic is in the works. When the festival debacle occurred, Andy Samberg did take the time to tweet out that Samberg and his Lonely Island cohorts were working on a film in the spirit of Fyre Festival, long before the Fyre fell apart. Reality really is stranger than fiction, I suppose.

Ideally, it would be somewhere in the cross section of Adam McKay meets Yorgos Lanthimos, but once again, that’s neither here nor there. The reason I spent all this time to set the scene for a prospective Fyre Festival biopic is because regardless of who makes the film, it’s almost certain I’ve found the perfect soundtrack for what one can only assume to be a surrealist and sardonic take on a uber-luxury bahamian based music festival - Diamond Carter’s latest EP, Moon Paradise Vol. 2.

Right off the bat, Carter’s choice of title is uncanny in its relevance to something as bizarre as Fyre Festival. A project Carter describes himself as “Tropical Vampire Music” (which, for the record, was denoted with neon orange comic sans print in the pitch email) in almost inarguably the perfect spiritual companion to our hypothetical Fyre Festival biopic.

Carter’s production has taken a slight departure from the satin sheets, fantasm glimmer of Moon Paradise Vol. 1, and upped the ante-on Southern hemispheric pan-flute and moon juice drenched allure. Despite the slight shift toward more twinkling production on Vol. 2, Carter maintains the thruline of impish, Hunter S. Thompson charisma that has made him such a fascinating and seductive character in Nashville over the years.  

While Vol. 1 certainly had its fair share of Carter’s unique style of 808s and proverbial heartbreak, Vol. 2 definitively showcases an elevated production value. From the onset, “Burning House” showcases those aforementioned Southern Hemispheric pan-flute sounds over a driving backbeat that reminds of a vestigial Nicolas Jaar track. Or take “Cards Out,” with the spirit of The Messina (no idea if Carter actually used on in production) on full display, the vocal auto-tune effect could be described as a total flex (for lack of a better term) on what a Nashville singer-songwriter can sound like in 2018.

While Carter no doubt make great strides in hoisting the production of Vol. 2 onto a new plane, he’s retained his delightfully idiosyncratic lyrical purview. “California Love” features plenty of playful and pithy lines, some of which further substantiate our Fyre Festival soundtrack prompt - “There’s a message in the water, baby/If you still think there’s love in California/You’ll end up [indiscernible] at a needle exchange….” Granted, while California isn’t quite Great Exuma, the sentiments of foreboding are eerily similar. But the lyrical uniquity doesn’t stop there, as “Candlewax” - my favorite tune on the EP - talks of saddlebags, disparate rendezvous, and general disconsolation, over a driving rhythm. It’s as if Carter took the spirit of Sol Cat and crossed it with Julian Casablancas, for a generally austere, but impregnable song.

Vol. 2’s final two tracks, “Timba” and “Latin” (presumably) lend themselves to a live setting, and further substantiate an exasperation that would appeal to our Fyre Festival prompt. “Timba” is sonically paranoid, bordering on frenzied, while “Latin” is playful but deranged, once again making Carter something of an island in his own right, with regard to Nashville’s music scene.

So with all that said, we’ve - at the very least - established Diamond Carter and Moon Paradise Vol. 2 are the ideal Fyre Festival biopic soundtrack. On a larger, applicable scale, Vol. 2 proves that Carter continues to serve as an anachronistic bastion within Nashville. While others lean further and further into Americana rootsiness and butt rock grumbles, Carter aims straight for the celestial and surreal, fully fitting for a Moon Paradise of his own making.

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