Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)

Landing somewhere between the Cramps and the Handsome Family, this one-off project creates its own feral sound. It’s a musical collage with a Gothic heart. It flirts with genre but shies away from commitment – instead it skids from one thing to another, the opener skitting between avant electronica, Morricone western soundtrack and something swampy. ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ makes a bid for coherence and ends up like Lee Hazelwood soundtracking a Roger Corman flick.

There is something theatrical and cinematic about the songs, they exist as part of a wider landscape, crickets chirrup throughout and the ambient sounds of TV or radio leaks into the songs. The twisted love song ‘The Visit’ has the feel of something like ‘Badlands’ (the film) and it is also something that is rather lovely. Dylan’s ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’ is cloaked in a dusty haze, a sense of desperation hangs over it. ‘If I Could Start Over Again’ consider what you might do differently if you had your life over again, only this is from the perspective of an imprisoned murderer.

‘Hymn Four’ makes full use of the melancholy that can be wrought from a steel guitar, it dances out a lovely waltz, blending with harmonica to create a droning Lynchian soundtrack, all dream-like and disorientating. The closing ’24:33’ is a chirping cricket homage to John Cage. I’m rather disappointed that this will be their only release, it’s full of interest and ideas that could easily bear further examination.

Author: David Cowling

Punk rock, Go-Betweens, REM, Replacments, Husker Du, Minutemen, Will Oldham, Smog, Whiskeytown, Ass Ponys but probably most of all Howe Gelb, led me on this journey.

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