Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Thinking Plague


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Thinking Plague Moonsongs album cover
3.62 | 42 ratings | 8 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Warheads (8:03)
2. Etude for Combo (6:59)
3. Collarless Fog That One Day Soon (3:20)
4. Inside Out (4:12)
5. Moonsongs (15:23)

Total Time 37:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Susanne Lewis / vocals
- Mike Johnson / guitars
- Eric Jacobson / keyboards
- Bob Drake / bass, drums, keyboards (4)
- Mark Fuller / drums

- Mark McCoin / drums (5)
- Fred Hess / alto saxophone (5)
- Glenn Nitta / soprano saxophone (5)

Releases information

Artwork: Susanne Lewis

LP - Dead Man's Curve ‎- DMC 007 (1987, UK)

LP reissue - Jelodanti Records - Jelo 18 (2020, France)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy THINKING PLAGUE Moonsongs Music

THINKING PLAGUE Moonsongs ratings distribution

(42 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THINKING PLAGUE Moonsongs reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars When I set out to discover Thinking Plague , I was expecting many things. So I headed out to the library and rented their first two albums as well as In This Life to have a good overview of their career. I will not repeat what I think of this band - please look at my other review - but I got what I expected: difficult RIO. But I was not expecting to find it uninteresting , relatively boring and uselessly complicated. I hold Bob Drake in high esteem but I don't dig this project too much.

For the confirmed fan of RIO. Please note that these first two albums are now available on a single cd , so you can avoid dishing out your hard-earned $$$. Better yet , look elsewhere.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. Man this is one incredible release and the sound quality couldn't be better thanks to Bob Drake's remastering. We are introduced to singer Susanne Lewis on this album. I really came close to giving this a 5 star rating but I feel that although it's better than the debut it's not quite as impressive as the follow-up ("In This Life") which I did give that 5 star rating to. Bottom line is that if you haven't checked out any of THINKING PLAGUE's first three albums you really need to because you won't be disappointed, only surprised at how amazing this band was right from day one.

"Warheads" really blew me away with the opening punchy sounds of bass and drums that sound so good. This one has lots of tempo shifts though,in fact you might say it has multiple personalities.This is my favourite track on here. "Etude For Combo" features some kind of percussion or vibes along with drums then the guitar joins in.Great tune. "Collarless Fog That One Day Soon" has some atmosphere as we get this spacey and somewhat haunting soundscape throughout. "Inside Out" is dark and haunting as the vocals join in.

"Moonsongs" is the almost 15 1/2 minute closer. They closed the debut album off with a track of almost the same length. It opens with percussion, drums and banging sounds as the vocals join in. Guitar before 4 minutes then we get some cool vocal arrangements. A calm 5 1/2 minutes in with strange vocal expressions. I like them. Sax around 9 minutes then we get this relentless beat before 11 minutes. A haunting calm with whispered vocals follows.It kicks back in after 12 1/2 minutes with vocals, then we get a guitar solo a minute later before a calm ends it.

Please track down the "Early Plague years" which has their first two studio albums remastered on one disc. A must for Rio / Avant fans.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A step up from their interesting but slightly unfocused debut album, Moonsongs shows a more mature and relentless new edge to TP's musical vision. The material is fairly dark, edgy and delightfully creepy throughout, with several mindboggling twists lurking everywhere, and while all of it is on a very dissonant note, TP's unique sense of melody and rhythmic challenges makes this album good for dozens of repeated listenings. Highlights are the gritty and apocalyptic opener "Warheads", which starts out right in your face with spiky and jagged rhythms before segueing into a most atmospheric and pessimistic purgatory, and the monolithic title track, which features intruging tribal percussion for a good rhythmic start before going into a forest of strange vocal samplings (reminiscent of Jarre's 'Zoolook' album from '84) and bizarre couplings of jazz, avantgarde classical and brutal industrial rock.

Finishing a TP album is like finishing a good, twisted horror movie - you simultaineously get mind[%*!#]ed and euphoric, yet can't really shake the thing off for a few days. This is some really dark and weird music but any adventurous listener should check these guys out. Their 1989 masterpiece "In This Life" is also recommended!

Review by Warthur
4 stars Thinking Plague refined their approach between their debut and the more mature Moonsongs, which has a more distinct sound all of its own that is less dependent on the Plague's various RIO influences and antecedents. The epic title track works its way through pulsating rhythms and strange vocal experiments and is an obvious highlight, whilst elsewhere the album reveals a darker and more aggressive direction for the group than the debut album had offered. Whilst I think that In This Life has the edge as far as Thinking Plague's 1980s materials goes, Moonsongs is certainly hot on its heels and worthy of the attention of any avant-prog fan.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Bob Drake and Mike Johnson's THINKING PLAGUE may have gone under the radar with their debut "A Thinking Plague" in 1984, but garnered enough positive criticism by the prog community to warrant continuing on. They immediately began to record material the following year but many changes were afoot. Firstly, the dynamic duo disbanded all the members on board and started from scratch. The new lineup included the addition of vocalist Suzanne Lewis and keyboardist Eric Jacobson as well as drummer Mark Fuller who technically joined in on some of the tracks of the debut.

Another big change was that the basement of an old slaughterhouse which they called The Packing House Studios was no longer available and the band began to enter various low budget studios to carry forth their mission. Work was slow and meticulous and it took two long years before the sophomore album MOONSONGS was released but it was this second offering where the band proved themselves to be a major powerhouse in the world of avant-prog with a more refined and distinct style that displayed the unique mix of Zappa styled orchestral arrangements teased out with aspects of folk, jazz, classical, rock and extreme experimentalism.

Known at the time as prog rock collage music, THINKING PLAGUE found new creative ways to mix and manipulate chamber rock string sections, free improvisation, tribal percussion and eerie atmospheric mood settings. While the band was official a quintet, a few session musicians provided the occasional alto and soprano sax. MOONSONGS basically takes the debut's approach and expands its horizons into more complex and darker pastures with contributions from more band members including singer / songwriter / vocalist Susanne Lewis who also created the cover artwork.

It seems to me that at its heart, THINKING PLACE is really an anarchy-punk band that just happened to be more musically inclined. Tracks like the opening "Warheads" echoes a dark disrespect for the war machine through a series of sound collages that initiate with a rather punk-like guitar riffing that drifts off into ethereal rolls of sound punctuated by an off-kilter jazzified percussive beat. While the opener offers hints of the debut album, the following "Etude For Combo" finds a fully functioning band embracing the height of avant-garde weirdness as the angular rhythms, time signature rich grooves and overall esoteric mood swings are in full regalia and thus taking the adventurous antics of the debut into the stratosphere of possibilities.

"Collarless Fog That One Day Soon" is a completely psycho-ambient parade into the subconscious and is basically a three minute plus interlude that debuts the band's ability to create long drawn out nerve racking atmospheres that serve as connective tissue between tracks. The following "Inside Out" follows the other-worldly effect with Lewis' vocals emerging from an ambient soup that sounds like it was beamed to the Earth from an extraterrestrial race in a galaxy far, far away. The track that cemented THINKING PLAGUE as one of the 80s greatest progressive contributions is the fifteen and a half minute closing title track which Johnson perfectly describes as a "tribal-pagan-environmental-anti-materialistic avant-rock ritual." While beginning as if dropped down in a pygmy ceremony in the jungles of Africa, wends and winds around the classic THINKING PLAGUE universe of ever- changing compositional weirdness and goes full circle by the same tribal percussion that began the journey.

With their sophomore album, THINKING PLAGUE became an underground sensation in the prog and art rock world and with two uniquely bizarre albums under their belt found themselves touring with Sonic Youth. MOONSONGS perfectly picks up from the debut and expands the musical lexicon in myriad directions by taking the Henry Cow angularism, Zappa-esque jazz-rock, Dagmar Krause slightly off vocals and countless other experimental features to bizarre new heights. The band perfectly mixed their rock sensibilities in a sea of genre bending possibilities in a very restrained manner that allowed the elements to come and go as was organically ordained and nothing really feels forced in any way.

MOONSONGS was released in 1986 on cassette only on the Endemic label and then the following year on vinyl LOP on Dead Man's Curve Records. The album has never seen another release in its own right but together with the debut "A Thinking Plague," has been remastered and released in its entirety on the twofer compilation "Early Plague Years." This second release is utterly brilliant and should not be missed by fans of complex avant-prog that takes liberties beyond your wildest dreams. The first two THINKING PLAGUE albums are quite unique in comparison to their other albums that follow. They are equally art rock as they are progressive avant-garde and capture the spirit of not only the Henry Cow club but also display some of that Talking Heads new wave and punk rock spirit. An equally dynamic second offering not to be missed.

Latest members reviews

4 stars "Moonsongs" is the 2nd LP by the band, and it is also featured in tracks 1 to 5 on the "Early Plague Years" reissue album. Compared to the 1st album "a Thinking Plague", it is a big step forward. The overall atmosphere of the album is much rockier and stronger. Drums and percussion take majo ... (read more)

Report this review (#105324) | Posted by ShW1 | Tuesday, January 2, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars A rather bad example of Rock in Opposition, although not because the album is "difficult" or particularly complicated - actually, it's quite the contrary. Compared to the immensely dense and complex compositions found on Thinking Plague's more recent efforts, 'Moonsongs' appears pret ... (read more)

Report this review (#70137) | Posted by Pafnutij | Tuesday, February 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Being a oldschool-sympho/neoprogfan, and rather new to RIO-genre, I was overwhelmed by "In Extremis" and "A History Of Madness" a while ago. I didn't think music that complicated could become so addictive, but it did. But, thanks to the reviews here on this site of the first two Thinking Plagu ... (read more)

Report this review (#51511) | Posted by sunhillow | Wednesday, October 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of THINKING PLAGUE "Moonsongs"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.