As much a work of California sci-fi as Octavia Butler’s Parable novels, Night of the Worm Moon incorporates everything from alternate realities to divine celestial bodies. Inspired in part by one of her musical idols, the Afro-futurist visionary Sun Ra (the album’s title is a tip of the hat to his 1970 release Night of the Purple Moon), the record blends pastoral folk with cosmic concerns.
Cleveland dreamt up this premise while living in Los Angeles, a city where--as deftly explored on La Luz’s recent Floating Features--reality and fantasy casually co-exist. One particularly evocative scene laid the groundwork for Night of the Worm Moon’s psychedelic undercurrents. As Cleveland tells it, “Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles I went to a hip hotel to watch a poolside screening of a documentary about a local alien-worshiping cult. Out front celebrities were getting out of the backs of cars and rushing past autograph hounds into some roped-off room where a secret dinner was about to commence. In the lobby a woman was being paid to exist inside a glass box. [Then] a car dressed as a spaceship pulled up in front to release 30 white doves into the sky above Sunset Boulevard.”