January 2013 Short Reviews (Black Light, Burial Hex, The Doomed Bird of Providence)


Black Light

Black Light - Black Light [label]

Wisconsin-based, like their label Brave Mys­ter­ies, Black Light are one of the newer trav­el­lers on the neo­folk path. Inspired by the European styles that went before, but with a touch of Amer­ican out­stretched­ness to the sound. There’s the usual com­bin­a­tion of a gui­tar base and male and female voices, backed with a selec­tion of per­cus­sion and aux­il­i­ary melodic instru­ments like glock­en­spiel.

The tracks are pretty tra­di­tional, loyal more to the neo­folk lin­eage than any­thing folky bey­ond that, and the sound is very lo-fi. I’d be inclined to com­pare this album to the earlier tape by labelmates Eit­ar­nora, but Black Light pales a bit in com­par­ison to the more free-roaming and pro­gress­ive com­pos­i­tions of that duo.

Black Light is pleas­ant enough to listen to, but there are a lot of rough edges that aren’t yet com­pensated by any clar­ity of vis­ion or unique style. Not a bad effort, but if the band wants to impress me, they’ve got some work to do before next time we meet.

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Eschat­o­logy II

Burial Hex - Eschat­o­logy II [label]

Part two in what is to become a four-part “divin­at­ory kit and cas­sette box­set”, Eschat­o­logy II con­tin­ues the strong trend set with the first tape. These are massive tracks in which Clay Ruby takes the time to explore his deep and heavy sounds.

The first track starts deceiv­ingly calmly: a synth and organ move­ment based on a work by Albéric Magnard. Serene and uplift­ing like few other works by Burial Hex, and with the same gritty classical-meets-industrial eleg­ance we hear in Cir­cu­la­tion of Light. How­ever, as the track pro­gresses Ruby stead­ily drags us back into his darker realms. Don’t be afraid — or do! — there is plenty of that lovely misty gothic dun­geon sound here that is a per­fect match for tape as a format. The B-side houses a lengthy remix of “The Tower”. A slow but steady (not to men­tion incred­ibly heavy) beat dom­in­ates the major­ity of the track, along with thick drones and the occa­sional melod­ica bright­ness just peek­ing through. The best is at the end: five minutes of power­ful rhythms.

With the first two tapes released, this ‘Pro­ces­sion of Night­fall’ set is turn­ing into a mar­vel­lous work, and I eagerly await the final chapters.

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Collision/Detection v7

The Doomed Bird of Provid­ence - Collision/Detection v7 [label]

I’ve become quite fond of the The Doomed Bird of Providence’s naut­ical neo­folk sound the past two years or so, so a new digital EP like this one is a treat. Collision/Detection is an ongo­ing series, part of the Long Divi­sion with Remain­ders col­lab­or­at­ive pro­ject, wherein dif­fer­ent artists work with a few basic sound mater­i­als to cre­ate some­thing new.

All four tracks here are instru­mental, with accor­dion and fiddle as the prom­in­ent instru­ments, but quite some back­ing too. The first tracks are a delight­ful bit­ter­sweet, with the longer third track “Seabound” becom­ing more mel­an­choly and drony towards the end. The final track, “The Wounded Platelayer”, even turns towards deep indus­trial drones and crash­ing metal with soar­ing viol­ins, a styl­istic shift that works won­ders. Like steam­punk and sea­punk rolled into one, but cool.

Three of the four tracks are set to vin­tage film mater­ial, which you can check out on the offi­cial release page. Ergo, it is mostly listen­able online for free, but show The Doomed Bird some love as well while you’re at it and buy this one.

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