Music Reviews
Brightblack Morning Light

Brightblack Morning Light

Brightblack Morning Light

Matador Records

Brightblack Morning Light is hushed chorales and cough-syrupy jams. Delicate, jazz-tinged mantras played at half-speed while everyone blinks and squints from staring at the sun too much. Late summer days right before autumn, lying in the grass and soaking in the blue sky and the cricket songs. Brightblack Morning Light, the band, sounds like Spacemen 3 without guitars or Mazzy Star, Spiritualized, Brian Jonestown Massacre, maybe Opal with all the frazzled and agitated bad vibes/melancholy sucked right out, replaced by wide-open eyes and a quiet smile. Curiously earth-bound, canyon-dwelling space rock, the songs on Brightblack Morning Light are built around vintage electric piano and warm organ tones, playfully augmented with drums, bass, piano, a variety of horns, tiny hints of guitar and, naturally, the honeyed coos and echoing whispers of vocalists Nathan Shineywater and Rachel Hughes. The pieces on this album are less songs, in terms of traditional verse/chorus straightjackets, but more drones, mantras, ragas, almost achingly relaxed and unhurried, following that maxim of good music: always follow the infinite riff. And they do. God. These are one-chord prayers.

Brightblack linchpins Shineywater and Hughes come off like a narcoleptic Royal Trux –a little too smart (witness the jazzy inflections and horns) and definitely too in love with the possibilities of sound– to be the blissed-out hippies their own press release suggests. Think of Brightblack’s sound as doom metal pacing paired with spare hymns and front-porch ambiance. This is music for long rambles in the forests of North Carolina and Virginia. The songs tend to eschew traditional structure, dynamics and even speed for relaxed drones, often seeming like one long verse, mining ultimate euphoria and sun-blinded possibilities from every Rhodes Electric riff. No aggro. Vocals are drenched in echo and reverb, sounding like distant angelic transmissions, the two vocalists create beautiful amniotic harmonies.

Brian Wilson probably woulda loved this stuff. Surely David Crosby does. Reminds me a lot of CSNY’s “Country Girl,” which is a good thing, since I see that as a template of space rock but with a more natural, wooden timbre (so to speak). Brightblack Morning Light feels like it’s been around a whole helluva lot longer than it actually has. Let this shine upon your face. Go ahead, open your eyes.

Matador Records: http://www.matadorrecords.com/brightblack


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