The Broken Letters
Sing the Burning Alphabet
Only two people could make music as uncluttered and focused as Sing The Burning Alphabet, like a whispered conversation at 2am when you don’t want to wake the people in the next room, like a glance shared that speaks volumes. Vocalist/guitarist David Hickox (one half of the Broken Letters) delivers his lyrics in a style similar to Bonnie Prince Billy, maybe a psalmist in your local church, or a male Liz Frasier, a quavery, clear sigh of a voice, lending solemn dignity to the his puzzle box parable lyrics, lyrics that gradually unspool into devotionals and loving evocations of something just out of reach, occasionally given a response and a harmony by drummer Brad Davis, making the whole thing just a little less lonely. But more lonely at the same time? Together, Hickox and Davis, as the Broken Letters, weave a bewitching, almost unbearably sad, earthen web of spare guitar and drums, rising and falling in sympathetic response to one another, like Low at their best, the quiet of the room a third near-silent partner. Guitars chime high and lonesome, sharp as a needle or clear as blue water. The drums finish every sentence and lend a necessary gravity to the flight-bound harmonies.
It seems to me that the Broken Letters and doom/drone duo OM are operating on similar wavelengths, using basic electric tools and the quiet between notes and a certain saddened modal drone as methods of exploring a VERY individual vision of spirituality and transcendence. But whereas OM’s Al Cisneros reminds one of some sort of Buddhist monk or gnostic mystic from ages past, the Broken Letters’ (lack of) faith, and I really fucking hate to toss that word around all flippity-floppety — for all we know they might be the most secular humanist dudes in the world (I figure all of this blinding light comes from inside, anyway), is rooted in the red clay and mud of their Alabama Baptist upbringing, great big wooden churches, still nights with the crickets buzzing, deserted streets, and fervent gospel choirs.
I fucking dig how Broken Letters are stretching the duo format away from noisier excursions to a quieter, more holy place. Of course, they’re from the South, you could tell in a second — can’t fake this kind of wide-open melancholy hauntedness. Sing The Burning Alphabet is rudimentary and effective music. You’re probably going to be thinking to yourself that the instrumental parts would be bloody simple to play, but you wouldn’t even come close to recapturing the moment. That moment.
A very intense hush. A very quiet ecstasy.
P.S. I saw a picture one of them wearing a Carcass t-shirt. Give it a million stars!
The Broken Letters: burningalphabet.com