Moon Pix

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Moon Pix
Cat Power-Moon Pix (album cover).jpg
Studio album by Cat Power
Released September 22, 1998
Recorded November 7, 1996
January 1998 at Sing Sing Studio in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genre Indie rock, electric folk, sadcore
Length 46:19
Label Matador
Producer Matt Voigt
Cat Power chronology
What Would the Community Think
Moon Pix
The Covers Record

Moon Pix is the fourth album by American singer-songwriter Cat Power (a.k.a. Chan Marshall). It was released in September 1998 on Matador Records.

Prior to recording Moon Pix, Marshall had planned to retire from the music business, relocating to Portland, Oregon and Prosperity, South Carolina; however, after experiencing a hallucinatory nightmare while staying in a rural farmhouse, Marshall wrote the bulk of Moon Pix in a single night. In January 1998, Marshall traveled to Melbourne, Australia, to record the album with Mick Turner and Jim White, of the Australian instrumental band Dirty Three, on guitar and drums, respectively.


Several songs on Moon Pix— "No Sense," "Say," "Metal Heart," "You May Know Him" and "Cross Bones Style"— were written "in one deranged night," following a hallucinatory nightmare Marshall had in the fall of 1997, while alone in the South Carolina farmhouse she shared with then-boyfriend, Bill Callahan. "I got woken up by someone in the field behind my house in South Carolina," she explained, "The earth started shaking, and dark spirits were smashing up against every window of my house. I woke up and I had my kitten next to me...and I started praying to God to help me...So I just ran and got my guitar because I was trying to distract myself. I had to turn on the lights and sing to God. I got a tape recorder and recorded the next sixty minutes. And I played these long changes, into six different songs. That's where I got the record." [1]

She recounted the experience of writing the album again in 2012, saying: “I was by myself for three months in the country, surrounded by fields. One morning I had a vision, woke up and could feel something beyond the trees outside my window. Then I heard a voice: ‘Chan, come and meet me outside and all the past will be forgotten.’ I remember sitting up in bed and saying ‘No!’ And when I said that, I felt as if something was coming fast, straight from under the earth, these dark spirits. I know that sounds completely insane. So I sprung out of bed and rushed into every room [mimes shutting windows in a panic]. Then they came, thousands of them, all up against the kitchen window. They were clear, black as night, trying to get into my soul. That’s when I grabbed my acoustic guitar. I thought that if people found my body, I needed to leave a tape. So I just played the songs that became Moon Pix. It was horrifying.”[2]


Most of Moon Pix was recorded at Sing Sing Studio in Melbourne, Australia by house engineer Matt Voigt. In a 2006 interview with Mess+Noise, Voigt revealed that work on the album started the day after New Year's in 1998, with Marshall arriving with her guitar and asking Voigt how he wanted to set up for recording. She sang and played guitar at the same time, with a small guitar amplifier in one room, and Marshall singing into a microphone in another room.

The album's opener, "American Flag," features a slowed-down reversed drum sample from the 1986 Beastie Boys song, "Paul Revere." According to Voigt, Marshall appeared with a copy of the song on album in her bag, and requested a "backwards drum beat," which Marshall then recorded on top of.[3] The sample is uncredited on Moon Pix.

Voigt recalls that Marshall was "a lovely lady. Very emotional. We would do takes and she'd just start crying in the middle of a take. And she'd say 'Stop, stop, I'm sorry, I'm sorry' and I'm like "'It sounded great!'" [4]

According to Voigt, the Dirty Three members joined the studio most likely on the second day. White played drums over vocals and guitar already recorded by Marshall, and all three musicians recorded two songs live with bassist Andrew Entsch on double bass.[4] The album also features Belinda Woods on flute.

"Peking Saint" and "You May Know Him" were recorded by Mick Turner at Scuzz Studios. "Back of your Head" was recorded for the VPRO Radio 5 show, "De Avonden."


No singles were released for Moon Pix, although a music video directed by Brett Vapnek was released for the song "Cross Bones Style."


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating 5/5 stars[5]
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone 4.5/4.5 stars[7]

Moon Pix has been called Cat Power's "magnum opus" and "a true masterpiece of emotional shading and compositional clarity." [4] Critics cited it as evidence of Marshall's maturation as a songwriter, with Heather Phares of Allmusic writing that "Moon Pix continues Chan Marshall's transformation from an indie rock Cassandra into a reflective, accomplished singer/songwriter."[8] Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone called it "even stronger" than her previous album, What Would the Community Think (1996), and wrote that "it still holds up as one of the Nineties great singer/songwriter triumphs." [9]

The album is referenced in Jeffrey Brown's 2005 graphic novel, "Aeiou: An Easy Intimacy," as part of the 'Soundtrack Side A'.

The album's cover was reenacted by the Shins on their 2001 music video for "New Slang," along with album covers by Hüsker Dü, the Replacements, the Minutemen, Squirrel Bait, Sonic Youth and Slint.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "American Flag"   Chan Marshall 3:30
2. "He Turns Down"   Marshall 5:39
3. "No Sense"   Marshall 4:50
4. "Say"   Marshall 3:24
5. "Metal Heart"   Marshall 4:02
6. "Back of Your Head"   Marshall 3:43
7. "Moonshiner"   (traditional) 4:50
8. "You May Know Him"   Marshall 2:46
9. "Colors and the Kids"   Marshall 6:35
10. "Cross Bones Style"   Marshall 4:32
11. "Peking Saint"   Marshall 2:28
Total length:



  1. ^ Goodman, Elizabeth (2009). Cat Power: A Good Woman. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-307-39636-5. 
  2. ^ Hughes, Rob (2013-06-25). "Glastonbury 2013: Cat Power interview - swooning songs and psychotic episodes". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  3. ^ "Recording Cat Power : Mess+Noise". 2006-03-25. Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  4. ^ a b c "Recording Cat Power : Mess+Noise". 2006-03-25. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  5. ^ " review". 1998-09-22. Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  6. ^ Allmusic review
  7. ^ "Rolling Stone review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  8. ^ Phares, Heather (1998-09-22). "Moon Pix - Cat Power". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  9. ^ Rob Sheffield (2010-04-10). "Cat Power | Rolling Stone Music". Retrieved 2010-12-10.