Friday, November 19
La Zona Rosa
Austin band The Black Angels have made a name for themselves and gained some killer acclaim along the way by offering up something that mirrors a very bad trip into the inner workings of the psych. A sound of intensly primal and seething dark psychedelia dripping at every seam with feedback. No traces of peace and love ideals are to be found in any darkened corner of The Angel’s first release Passover. Sophomore release Directions to See a Ghost, although boasting a wider range in vocal skills ( see: that amazing scream on ‘You On the Run’),stays very true to the sound presented on the first album and puts you in the dark dank trenches of the front lines.
Newly signed to legendary blues label Blue Horizon, The Black Angels add some pigmented hue to their workings while still managing to do their signature sound a lot of justice on Phosphene Dream.
Opening track ‘Bad Vibrations’ delivers what the title professes with a thick intro of shaky and throbbing guitar. Alex’s labored vocals can barely squeeze in next to the noise, atonally echoing in the distance. ‘Haunting at 1300 McKinley’ is more feedback light, channeling something like old Sabbath songs, and as the title promotes, a ghostly vibe of detached soundscapes hovering in a haze over classic Black Angel’s sound underneath it all. ‘River of Blood’ melodically begins atmospheric and slowly builds to riot frenzy while still remaining understated. There’s no real high/low shift, just an impressive build up of feedback and mood energy within the tempo of the song. “True Believers shows a variety of styles, starting off very close to folk and ending in the waves of an ocean of feedback. Title track ‘Phosphene Dream’ has a bit of a guitar battle going between steady and fuzzed out. The changes come on three tracks that deviate from what thus far has been associated with The Black Angels. Track ‘Sunday Afternoon’ pays homage to another Texas band and Black Angels influence 13th Floor Elevators with an electric jug and rigid R&B structure. ‘Yellow Elevator #2’ is quite trippy and nearly even a happy peace and love kind of psychedelic. ‘Telephone’ gets back to basics doing away with the whirling drone and rocks the plug and play style. At the end of it all, the Black Angels remind you of which band you are listening to by ending it all with their trademark sound on the track ‘Sniper’. A fitting closure to a beautifully put together album that adds a just right amount of variety to tradition. You won’t miss anything you’ve come to love from this band if that’s what your looking for, but don’t be surprised if you also end up falling for the subtle growth in style as well. It’s quite awesome.
The Black Angels put on an amazing show. They are loud. Their presence is known. Don’t plan on talking at the bar with your buddies, you won’t be able to hear them, and your words will be caught in your throat by the constant onslaught of reverb and pounding drums that will wash over you. Alex’s voice has a resonance and force that teeter between control and chaos, he doesn’t easily get lost in the feedback despite the whirling sounds of five furiously playing musicians. They are playing with Black Mountain, these two bands shadow each other in sound and performance style so it’ll just be a full night of heart rate raising great music. If you can make this show, it’s going to be an amazing one!