The Black Heart Procession
Touch & Go
After a brief foray into a humid goth/tropicalia hybrid on Amore del Tropico, The Black Heart Procession return to their status quo of eerie western americana with The Spell. The band’s canyon-sized sound comes not from a blazing trail of instrumentation and production girth, but from the seemingly unending and ambiguous foggy ambience blurring the edges of each of these tracks. Drawing from filmic sources like Angelo Badalamenti and Ennio Morricone as well as noir mood-setters like Nick Cave and Tom Waits, the instrumentation and arrangement are both instantly familiar and surreal. “Places” lopes along at a dirt road’s pace while a sinister violin pursues, reverb-laden, in the background. The biggest surprises and strongest assets on The Spell are the driving, pulse-quickening numbers like “The Fix” and “GPS,” which rise up from the desert floor and bloom into almost-dance tracks thanks to a disco beat from the rhythm section, manic percussion and some tasteful wah-wah on the guitar lines. Even during these moments, subtlety remains key. The Black Heart Procession is never going to be a band to fall into heavy-handedness, to bludgeon the listener with too much to take in. The closer “To Bring you Back,” is a melancholy ballad stitched together with just enough interaction from bass, drums, slide guitar and piano to carve out a song. The loneliness is not only present in the lyrics (“When I wake the light seeps in/ and I know I have no defence/ Something took you away/ but the night time will bring you back”), but it’s also palpable in the music. Like it or not, a time is going to come this year when you’re going to need some musical accompaniment for your brooding, The Spell should do nicely.
Touch & Go Records: www.touchandgorecords.com