Music Reviews
Brightblack Morning Light

Brightblack Morning Light Brightblack Morning Light

(Matador) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

I'm not really a proponent of the 'erb. Some people though take a slightly evangelical approach to it, wearing hilarious bootleg t-shirts and hanging around Camden Lock. Some make impassioned, scientifically based pleas to government on legal issues and appeals. Some, like Brightblack Morning Light, just smoke a lot of it. And doing so inevitably produces an album such as the California-based duo's eponymous debut - fortunately, it's also a record that can be enjoyed - to a point - cold sober, a relief considering that at some point, it's going to need to be reviewed with a comparatively clear head.

A lot of the psychedelia of the late 60's, the prog-rock of the 70's, has not aged well. Self-indulgence is no longer considered an admirable or desirable quality in band, aspects replaced by concision, succinctness, clarity. This is a good thing. But there's still a place for expansive music that has room to breathe, and that doesn't try and cram too much into the space of the song. Take Low, for example, a band that leaves gaps that make what's missing as much a part of the song as what's there and creates a feeling of space and an atmosphere like no-one else. BBM are not like Low in that respect, as the album is often a dense fug of repetitive riffs and wafting reverb, but the principle is the same: to allow space and room to expand without feeling the strictures of the three-and-a-half minute pop song. The opening brace of Everybody Daylight and Friend Of Time clock in at over six minutes each and set BBM's stall for their second album, with hypnotic electric piano chords - a theme throughout the record - and the inimitable, back of the mix vocals that sound like they were recorded right next to you but at the same time far, far away in some grand cathedral.

Tracks vary between no drums at all and tight, wound-up jazz percussion, but the recurring themes of mesmerising electric piano and narcotic, almost somnambulant riffs permeates the whole work. In some respects it's an entirely instrumental album, the vocals being incidental and not a necessity for the songs to work, but in other respects it's the vocals that set Brightblack Morning Light aside from other bands of their ilk, each delicate phrase lilting and fading like the mists at sunrise. The album as a whole is totally cohesive, and to pick highlights is to miss the point somewhat: tracks ebb and flow and it's often difficult to pick out starting and ending points, a nice touch given the dreamy, deliberately undefined nature of the music. If this is your cup of tea then this is a lovely and very well-worked album, if you like a little more structure or punch, then perhaps I'd advise steering a course around it, as it's an acquired taste that's not for everyone. The limited market appeal leads to a slightly lower score than if I were reviewing it on a very narrow set of criteria, so if the sound of this appeals to you at all, then Brightblack Morning Light come highly recommended.