My new fave rave for 2012; with dark nights, chill air, another year of work ahead, and the challenge of growing children gnawing at my soul, is the wonderful folk gothic choral grandeur of the ‘On A Dark & Barren Land’ by Texan residents The Angelus.
All the way from Denton, – home of Josh T. Pearson, Midlake, Sly Stone, Roy Orbison & Meatloaf – The Angelus focus around singer & songwriter Emil Rapstine. The music is rich, highly original and almost medieval in tone.
Produced by Josh T. Pearson & the band, the lyrics have many religious undertones that you might expect from a God fearing state like Texas. Texas is big. Very big. Big Land. Big Sky. Big Hats. That’s roughly the extent of my knowledge about Texas. But it does produce great musicians. And I would like to learn more. So to this end….
I spent about an hour earlier following the cognoscenti of the Denton social & cultural scene on Twitter. I’m thinking of suggesting that my current hometown (Nottingham UK) twins with Denton for a cultural exchange. In order to get the ball rolling I would ask any Dentonites to follow my Twitter account and send me some current pictures of Denton hot spots, places of interest, local heroes etc. You can leave comments here and send photos to my Gmail account, which I’ll post here to encourage a mutually beneficial cultural exchange.
But back to the band…..
There is an interesting interview with Emil on the ‘Violitionist’ website. He talks about the bands name, eschewing Buffyisms in favour of Jean-François Millet. An American art collector commissioned his painting of ‘The Angelus’, in 1857. It has a little of the American Gothic feel to it. The painting was later subject to legal ownership battles and now resides in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and is an iconic example of the pre-Impressionist realist school.
Whilst familiar with the painting I probably have more of an association for Salvador Dali’s version.
This from Wikipedia ‘The Angelus was reproduced frequently in the 19th and 20th centuries. Salvador Dalí was fascinated by this work, and wrote an analysis of it, The Tragic Myth of The Angelus of Millet. Rather than seeing it as a work of spiritual peace, Dalí believed it held messages of repressed sexual aggression. Dalí was also of the opinion that the two figures were praying over their buried child, rather than to the Angelus. Dalí was so insistent on this fact that eventually an X-ray was done of the canvas, confirming his suspicions: the painting contains a painted-over geometric shape strikingly similar to a coffin. However, it is unclear whether Millet changed his mind on the meaning of the painting, or even if the shape actually is a coffin’
But back to the band. Again…..
This is from the Violitionist sessions. “Screaming Bloody Murder”
….and another….. “Touching Down” This ones not on the album
….and the final one “Gone Country” This is completely wonderful…..
The album can be bought from the bands website. If you get a lovely physical copy sent direct from Denton Tx you also get the digital download whilst you wait. Emil kindly also sent me a digital booklet with some really beautiful illustrations and the song lyrics. Very lovely stuff and he’s obviously a very skilled artist visually as well as musically.
You can get the audio of the songs from the Violitionist Sessions here as well, by kind permission of Emil.
The Angelus – Violitionist Sessions
I hope the band does well. The music is just beyond describable. The folk & choral aspects will probably resonate with UK ears and I’m sure live shows would find some really attentive audiences.
WTATDR & Il Sogno Del Marinaio
Some times you know something is likely to be good. The stars align, the the augers mutter in agreement.
I saw //We tHrEE aND tHe DeAtH tattle // a year or so ago supporting Josh T. Pearson. They are a local (well Leicester) three piece combo. All primal drums, crashing guitar, twisted blues, hollered vocals…. and theremin …played with maracas. How could that not work.
I follow their FaceBook page and a few weeks ago they posted their appearance at the the Cookie Jar supporting Il Sogno Del Marinaio. The venue is a tiny basement, maybe 100 capacity and listening to the soundcheck from upstairs in the bar it promised to be a dangerous sonic experience. WTHATDR played for about 40 minutes, a tight set, really controlled noise and more certain in their ability then I remember.
Here is one of the highlights of the set.
I don’t know their names, they are a mystery. Perhaps how it should be. Hit and run music that hangs around like an unexpected dream.
Il Sogno Del Marinaio also trade in dreams. Playing Coltrane before coming on stage should have been a clue. With bass, guitar and drums, and given Mike Watts history in the Minutemen, the Missingman and as bass player in the resurrected Stooges the flying jazz of the set was an unexpected aspect. The set included all the songs from the album “La Busta Gialla”. This is more of a song cycle or tone poem than a rock record. It has echoes of Western soundtracks, mariachi, percussive euro jazz and edgy proto grunge. Other than Watt the band is guitarist Stefano Pilla and drummer Andrea Balfi. Both are exceptional skilled. This so evidently a project they have all contributed equally towards.
This is the song ‘The Tiger Princess’. Its representative of the record, this with Watt telling a mariners recollection of dream.
Mike Watt is a legend. I last saw him chomping a stogie and playing with J Mascis & the Fog (probably the loudest thing I have ever witnessed). He played with Sonic Youth, fIREHOSE and half a dozen of his own bands. He has a long slow drawl and probably isn’t averse to the odd brewskis or finger of bourbon. You wouldn’t mess. A big man and a big personality.
The gig was the penultimate date on a tour that has covered must of Europe. Definitely one of the most original and interesting gigs I’ve seen in a long time. Catch up with the album.
Here’s a brief live performance and an interview with Watts.
And finally this because its great……
Filed under Comment, Gigs, Hipstamatic, iPhonography, Music, Photography
Tagged as Cookie Jar, il sogno del marinaio, Josh T Pearson, Leicester, Mike Watt, Minutemen, We Three and the Death Rattle