Black Angels – Directions to See a Ghost (Light in the Attic Records) 5.29.8 Keith Boyd
Great swaths of central cortex pleasing fuzz set up a Bunsen burner in your brain that simply won’t give up. The heat generated from this sound causes tidal waves of synapse flooding pleasure that will either wash you up on the shores of yourself or move you into the cosmos. I dig this droney, dark two chord trip to the dark side. The bass driven pulse channels equal parts Velvet Underground and The Doors but somehow the whole come off as less retro than you might think and more punk, hip and now. It’s as though the threads of Velvet crunch and fuzz have been infused with Doors organ washes and intonations then ran through a black cauldron witches brew of low-fi punk, Wooden Shjps-like mono-focus and spun on the turntable at a Warhol “Factory” era get together. Black Angels are cooler than you and they know it.
Formed in that melting pot city of all things weird and rock-roll, Austin, The Black Angels started their strange trip with 2006’s, “Passover”. While that album was no sunny run through the park, “Directions…” does it one better and pushes the densely packed drone and crunch into catchy psychedelic head nodders that in an alternate universe would be Golden-Glam Forever Heaven in your bloodstream Pop Hits. The last album was a good intro blast of what the band had to offer but I feel it suffered for wanting to appear too much in the 60’s -70’s mode and not mining it’s own abundance of tremolo freak-out. The preoccupation with all things Vietnam might have had something to do with the off taste as well. This time around the themes are all much more cerebral and generally haunted. At times I’m reminded of a less angular “Miami”-era Gun Club. There’s that same sense of tragedy impending and Punk Rock Shamanism but heavier and more realized. Stand out tracks include, “Science Killer”, “You on the Run” and the killer DIY sitar driven tune, “DEER-REE-SHEE”.
The disc comes packaged in a retina-searing green on red Op-Art cover with an embossed pattern of some God’s eye or lysergic tunnel. It is beautifully recorded and mixed. The predominate feature is a thudding bass accompanied by Moe Tuckeresque 1-2 drumming. This backdrop sets up a drone which is punctured by sweet washes of runny mascara organ and sharp swells of guitar crunch. Even with the tempo and dynamics that shift from song to song these 11 tracks could all be a part of some greater unified whole. They seem like chapters in a doom laden epic song cycle. It’s great to see a good band realizing their strengths and maximizing them. Although it clocks in at over 70 minutes the gloomy trip that is, “Directions To See A Ghost” seems to end all too quickly.