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.
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.