Ghosts Will Come and Kiss Our Eyes
Autumn is upon is, skeletal hand resting on our shoulders, giving us our first annual chill of death. Halloween is over, and duly, the gates of Hell have been opened for yet another season of decay and ghastly processions. So I figured its time to look to the melancholy CD's, clutching the wall and looking sexy and despondent on my to-review shelf. I should probably be ashamed of my Goth side, but shame is for pussies and Catholics, and as any evil spirit will tell you, the real darkness comes from within.
The fine folks at Constellation (Godspeed You Black Emperor, A Silver Mt Zion, etc. etc.) can always be counted upon to send gloriously icy snapshots from their fortress of solitude, and the latest by Hrsta is no exception. Some of the songs like "Tomorrow Winter Comes" and "Haunted Pluckley" barely exist as more than shafts of blue light knifing through the air from a high window, resting gently on the keys of an organ or strings of a guitar. In fact, a lot of the Hrsta album is like that, diaphanous dream curtains billowing before an open window to the black starless night.
What keeps this from sounding like someone is getting their drone on in the keyboard room at Guitar center is the organic warmth of the tracks. "Entre La Mer Et L'eau Douce" is a slow death waltz rendered in either accordions or harmoniums (harmonia?) with a siren voice dipping and swooping like a lost hawk. You can hear the stops of the keys, almost as a beat in the otherwise percussionless song, making it as intimate as a ghost blowing out a candle. "Beau Village" is the one, though. The guitar is tremoloed as hell, as if it is echoing from the depths of a haunted mine, while the singer walks through walls with a half withered/half breathless rasp. A cover of The Bee-Gee's "Holiday" is the most song-ish example here, the vocals laying sweetly and languidly over a melancholy folk dirge.
The finest moments are the most melodramatic. "Hechicero Del Bosque" has an epic stoney vibe to it, like Animals-era Pink Floyd has provided the music for your haunted house, and "Saturn of Chagrin" and "Kotori" throb and intone like a clock tower in an impenetrable mist. It is not the most active music you've ever heard, but you all know, it's the black seeping in and the little rustles embedded therein that really send the shivers up your spine.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
The Review of the Year of Things #1: Jason Lewis surveys the years' great albums and noting so many, compartmentalized, as men do. So, here, albums by those so profoundly impacted by Death