The Moon and the Melodies is the product of a one-off collaboration between the Scottish group Cocteau Twins and the American composer Harold Budd, released by 4AD in November 1986.
The album has the characteristic style — heavily-treated guitar sounds and euphoric vocalising — that can be heard in the group's other work from the same period, for example on the EP "Echoes in a Shallow Bay" or the album Victorialand. Harold Budd's stylistic piano tonalities and phrasing on this project are echoed in his solo album, Lovely Thunder, from the same year. A version of the track "Memory Gongs" was released on Lovely Thunder as "Flowered Knife Shadows" and is dedicated to Simon Raymonde.
The phrases "bloody and blunt" and "ooze out and away, onehow" come from Elizabeth Fraser's lyrics on the songs "The Tinderbox (Of a Heart)" and "My Love Paramour", both from the 1983 Cocteau Twins album Head Over Heels. Reusing phrases from old songs as titles for others can be considered one of Fraser's signature characteristics, as can her habit of emphasizing syllables in ways that differ from standard usage.
Elizabeth Fraser sings on tracks 1, 4, 5 and 8. Saxophonist Richard Thomas appears on tracks 5, 6 and 7.