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Directions to See a Ghost
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The Black Angels are back with "Directions To See A Ghost", the second full-length album from Austin_Ts darkest droners. With tidal rhythms and rasping epics, "Directions To See A Ghost""is a driving, psychedelic masterpiece that churns through 72 minutes and 11 tracks. This highly anticipated follow-up to the band's 2006 critically acclaimed debut will leave listeners buzzing.
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RIYL: Dead Meadow, Black Mountain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Spacemen 3, The Warlocks (with whom I get to see them in a week!!!), Blood on the Wall (as in Mary Susan), The Verve
The first half of the album follows more its predecessor, not blazing a new trail yet. It's solid, but not until "Deer-Ree-Shee" with its sitars did I begin to turn up the volume and want to listen harder. From this point on, the intensity builds. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC--back when they tried to sound more acid-drenched and less faux-bluesy), 13th Floor Elevators (also from Austin) all come to mind, along with an inevitable nod to The Doors, Mo Tucker of the Velvet Underground, and to me Ian McCulloch's vocal delivery from Echo & the Bunnymen. My son heard early on what it takes track 7 "Never/Ever" to fully prove, an appropriate use of the band Clinic's "Visitations"-era processed spooky, echo-laden, dubbish croon. Like Clinic, The Black Angels build their own pinnacle atop a venerable edifice of neo-psychedelia that improves upon the foundation. As with Black Mountain near them on the shelves, they study the past to enrich their future as musicians able to incorporate the best from forty years ago.
But, as on the first CD, where the Black Angels (like Darker My Love may be doing in a poppier vein) begin to break free of their competitors is in their density of sonic production. I've heard The Warlocks (as in their latest "Freaky Deaky Skull Lover") enter a similar maturity, hammering down a thicker, insistent, and forbidding aura that somehow propels itself rather than miring itself in homage to sludgier pioneers of doom. What helps this for the Angels is the sonic space opened, and an additional member to the band. More guitar allows more diversity.
The vocals do get used more as texture than dominance. Fine in the studio, but I suspect a live concert would embellish these tunes even more. On record, they tend towards a broader spectrum than "Passover," and the self-consciously psychedelic filagree ornaments the songs nicely. As before, it's hard to carry off this music without sounding fey or derivative, but they've done it, improving the promise of album number one. A final thanks for the album design and layout-- this shows a smart group eager to "emboss" upon the same old template their own distinctively complex mark.
P.S. I wish the bonus tracks were available that were only sold at concerts or for pre-order: some of us fans only found out about this too late!
As with the debut, the songs tend to flow and groove endlessly. The `drone machine' saturates everything, the drums are powerful and locked, the guitar tone is perfectly fuzzy and Maas' piercing, nasally delivery is wonderfully fitting. Some songs have the tendency to drift on, but there are some real gems here. The one-two punch of "You On The Run" and "Doves" is a grand opening, with the former setting up a brooding, melancholy Velvet Underground atmosphere, only for the latter to cut through with some feel-good, sunshine pop psychedelia. Other highlights include the sombre "18 Years" and the sitar-laden "Deer-Ree-Shee". Generally, there isn't a bad song to be found here. "Directions" is another great album from The Black Angels that firmly cements them at the forefront of modern psychedelic rock.
"You on the Run" is the perfect album opener; like a monochromatic drill through yr brain, it drones into your skull rocking it from the inside out. Then u get to "Science Killer", a brooding number that slinks along in dark, unmistakably sexy way that is uniquely entrancing. "Mission District" is a call to a selfish lover with crackling guitar and waves of white noise that recall Spacemen 3. "18 Years" is a drugged out horror scene hypnotic in both tempo and groove .
"Snake in the grass", which opens the second vinyl disc, is the albums "sister ray"; murky, droning and extremely hypnotic, at around 17 minutes this feedback soaked opus just about rewrote the modern psychedelic handbook. Few albums have really gripped my subconscious the way this LP has and if you love rock and roll you really cant miss this album. thank u Black Angels for showing us that a band actually can still rock this hard.