Friday, November 21, 2008

Brightblack Morning Light-Two Albums

Brightblack Morning Light (2006)

"Though the album features ten songs, it more often plays like one massive piece with barely perceptible breaks. As engaging as the actual tunes can be, the disc's real strength is in its ability to sustain one consistent mood through its entire duration -- a slow-mo, almost languid waltz through bayous and shorelines. Even so, individual songs distinguish themselves from the haze -- "Everybody Daylight" starts the album with a supple rhythm while flute lines aim for the skies. "A River Could Be Loved" is willfully spare, tracing simple piano and organ tones across Rabob and Nabob's faintly echoed vocals. Gail West and Ann McCrary (two latter day members of the Staple Singers) lend their voices to tracks like "Friend of Time," giving the album's subtle gospel notes a distinguished feel. Brightblack's most affecting piece, though, is also the record's longest. Starting with woozy keys and lazy guitar, "Star Blanket River Child" hits a deep mainline and works it over, punctuating the engaging lope with tight horn bursts that add Technicolor effects to the band's genteel brush strokes.

Brightblack Morning Light combines a wealth of seemingly disparate musical strands into one potent, cohesive brew. Though Hughes and Shineywater skirt blues, funk, and modern psychedelic rock, what emerges never sounds like haphazard pastiche. Rather, stewed together long and slow, these familiar refrains emerge as the band's own singular and unmistakable sound -- powerful in its stark simplicity and graceful dedication to space, but played with gentle hands that never become overbearing. If anything, that's the album's only real weakness (besides the flower power) -- in pursuing such a lazy, hazy stream of thought for close to an hour, there's a tendency for the second half of the record to feel like a blur of nameless trees and rivers. Nonetheless, that dedication is always heartwarming, resulting in an album that seems perfectly suited for these heat-stroke days that we're stuck sweating through. Playing like Dusty Springfield's tenure in Memphis coated in bong resin, Dr. John's gris-gris mixed with some potent cough syrup, or even the Band's hearty embrace of Americana tempered with late night camp outs under the stars, Brightblack Morning Light is one gorgeous sigh after another."

Take a peek

Motion to Rejoin (2008)

"Authenticity is the big issue at the heart of Motion To Rejoin, coming in the form of the soul, blues, gospel music and the southern sounds that have surrounded this duo and their Alabama roots. Apparently they don’t dig overly postured appropriation, and it shows in their shamanic channeling of southern vibes, making it into something sincere and truly their own.

Backlit by those Doorsy muted 70s keyboard noodles, wafty woodwinds, layers and layers of hazy vocals, reverberant and spacious, Motion To Rejoin burns slow from start to finish. Straight away on 'Hologram Buffalo' it’s all slow-motion chords and blissed-out harmonies. In a way, the title of that track encapsulates their sound; slightly resistant to modernization but set firmly in the now.

The stoned, rolling nature of this stuff means it has the tendency to drop into the background but this is a virtue rather than a weakness. Yes, it’s 'mood' music but it’s unclear whether it’s purpose-built to be wafting through from the other room in a house with all the doors open. That’s not to say that it’s a boring record. Yes, the style and the evocative mood that positively drips from this record are perhaps its most obvious elements but the spirit that underlies these sweltering ballads is massive. And when you’re this good at dwelling on the middle bits, why not embrace it? You’ll get lost in this. A record that will not only change the temperature but your spirit, too."

Here too

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