The Black Angels — Directions to See a Ghost
(Light in the Attic LITA 033, 2008, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2010-07-01It is always exciting to discover new bands that take interesting elements from the past, combine them with fresh new ideas, and create something entirely new. Cases in point are the neo-psych bands like Wooden Shjips, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, and The Black Angels. The Black Angels hail from Austin, TX and are Stephanie Bailey (drums, percussion), Christian Bland (guitar, drone machine/organ), Kyle Hunt (keyboards, percussion, bass, guitar), Alex Maas (vocals), and Nate Ryan (bass, guitar). Directions to See a Ghost is their second full-length release and it is jam packed with droning, trippy, psychedelic music combining mid-60s Velvet Underground influences (Alex’s vocals bear a striking resemblance to Lou Reed), raga-rock including sitar drones, nods to Austin’s 13th Floor Elevators, and contemporary alternative bands. There are many standout moments on this disc. I especially like "Deer-Ree-Shee." There is some very powerful music here, Maas' recitations instead of really singing are somewhat difficult to decipher, but the band has a definite anti-war message. Alex sings on "Never/Ever": "You say the Beatles stopped the war/They might've helped to find a cure/But it's still not over." And closing out the disc is their sixteen minute opus "Snake in the Grass" with reversed loops mixed in with guitars, drums, and drones. The origin of their album title Directions to See a Ghost is lost on me, none of the songs appear to relate, that really doesn't matter. If this review intrigues you, then by means seek this band out.
Related artist(s): The Black Angels
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more