Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Space cadets

I've liked but never really loved Black Mountain - whether on record or live - so the news that Joshua Wells and Amber Webber had departed didn't bode well, personally speaking, for new LP Destroyer. Webber's voice was a vital asset, though underused; indeed, it's fair to say that I prefer Infinite Light by Lightning Dust, her side project with Wells, to either of the two Black Mountain albums I own (2008's In The Future or 2010's Wilderness Heart) - just check out closing track 'Take It Home' for a taster.

However, the Pitchfork review of Destroyer brought the revelation that among the replacements recruited by main man Stephen McBean were vocalist Rachel Bannan (who set Sleepy Sun apart from the crowd) and drummers Kid Millions (a leftfield legend, member of Oneida and absolute mind-blower on stage) and Kliph Scurlock (the former Flaming Lip now resident in Cardiff and playing with Gruff Rhys and Quodega and appearing in Boy Azooga videos). That cast of accomplices and the reviewer's evident enthusiasm compelled me to give the record a try.

So it's a shame to report that it sounds to these ears very much like previous releases: a faintly (if perhaps self-consciously) preposterous collision of Black Sabbath and the War Of The Worlds soundtrack. Second track 'Horns Arising' is a good example: a hefty, eminently satisfying riff, but the sort of synth sheen and vocodered vocals that Matt Bellamy might unironically think was a great idea. Closer 'FD 72', meanwhile, goes full-on Bowie-in-space. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with Destroyer or their previous records - but, for me, they call for too great a suspension of disbelief.

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