The Black Angels, Phosphene Dream
Bringing the Angels' nightmarish vision into garish technicolor
From the death-knell drums and spooked organ of Phospene Dream's first track "Bad Vibrations," it's clear the Black Angels have but one aim in mind: to take us on a trip into the deepest and darkest of psychedelic swamps.
For anyone new to the area, the Angels serve as reliable guides. Their previous albums, Passover and Directions To See A Ghost (both recorded in their native Austin, Texas), exhibited a slavish devotion to '60s drone-rock, putting them on a par with fellow noir-ish psych-obsessives (and current touring partners) Black Mountain. The crucial difference was in the snarling, vampirish lilt they brought to the material.
Phosphene Dream brings the Angels' nightmarish noir vision into garish technicolor. Newly signed to the resurrected Blue Horizon label and recorded in L.A. with uber-producer Dave Sardy, their third album crackles with devilish intent. "Rolling fast down 75/ empty Road/ moonlight sky" drawls singer Alex Maas on "Entrance Song," and the mood of foreboding only lifts twice: once on the reedy, Stonesy wig-out "Telephone" and again on the almost unnervingly upbeat "Sunday Afternoon."
The rest of the time, we're on a compelling voyage to the dark side. When you can make out the lyrics, they're as creepy as the sonics lead you to imagine. "He takes his pills/ So he can kill/ Praise the bible" groans Maas on the title track. The Black Angels won't win any prizes for originality, but for fans of Jefferson Airplane's seedier moments, or generally hung up on the macabre, this is one bad trip worth taking.