I've seen the two members of Atlanta duo BlackLove
in their previous bands. Rich Hudson used to be the front man
for Atlanta's BOB, an always interesting, if somewhat confrontational,
group. I can remember seeing them open for someone years ago
at the old Cotton Club in Atlanta and being impressed, but then
they fell off the map. Additionally, the press sheet for Black
Love states that Brian Cook used to play in both Pineal Ventana
and the Titanics. Although they were Atlanta noise-stalwarts,
I never really saw much of Pineal Ventana. However, I did see
the Titanics many times, in pretty much all of their incarnations.
And I always loved the catchy, retro-garage sound of that band,
before they too fell by the wayside.
Anyway, with a pedigree like that, my initial though upon receiving
this EP was that it would be hard to go wrong. And my second
thought was that I had no idea what type of music BlackLove
would play. But in the end this was probably a good conundrum.
Because I wasn't sure what to expect, I didn't have any real
preconceived notions, so I was able to listen to EP #1
Consisting of ten songs, EP #1 more or less alternates
instrumental noise interludes with longer, "feature-length"
tracks. The noise effects are just that – random sound constructions
that add to the dark soundscape created by the band, and which
have the overall effect of scaring my cats. I'm not sure why
this is, as there is nothing sudden or unexpected about these
interludes. Nevertheless, every time one of the interludes comes
on the CD player, all of my cats scatter to the four corners
of my house and hide until the music is safe again.
The five longer songs, however, aren't nearly as uniform musically,
although all five end with me saying, "Nicely done." For instance,
Uncle Scam begins with an electronic beat and orchestration
which is reminiscent of the early to mid 1990s ambient music
PostLibyan used to play for me. It has a nice melody that transitions
between the various instrumental sounds. At around the halfway
mark, the vocals come in and alternate with the main keyboard
parts, with some minor key diminutions, which makes everything
seem a little more interesting. Similarly, Burning Effigies
also begins with a primary keyboard bit that sounds like it's
being played on a early 1980s keyboards, with the multiple sounds
and definite synthetic feel. Likewise, this song too has a vocal
line, although this combination of instruments and vocal reminds
me a very-slowed down, more keyboard driven song by A Flock
of Seagulls (in particular their song Nightmares).
In contrast, Heard has more normal rock instrumentation,
with guitar and drums holding the dark, swampy tune together.
Like the previous two songs, it catches my interest, but the
haunted melody and more straight-forward sound is very much
in contrast with the rest of the album. Nevertheless, I like
the way Heard is constructed, especially the horn bit,
which plays with my musical expectations and makes the song
sound more full overall.
However, the best songs of EP #1 are the last
two: Plum & Froth and Ravi Wankuh. Plum & Froth
has an upbeat, almost carnival-esque feel to it. Mainly this
is due to the happily synthetic keyboard part which completely
mimics the vocal line. In most songs, you find that the instrumentation
either alternates or harmonizes with the vocals, but in the
case of Plum & Froth, it hits the vocal melody dead on.
This effect makes everything seem fun and a little silly while
the somewhat quicker pace induces a head bounce. In contrast,
the other standout track, Ravi Wankuh, has a slower,
droning beat. Nevertheless, it's perhaps the most simply catchy
tune on the album, and is again held together by the unification
between the primary keyboard part and the vocals. The best part
of this song, however, is the addition of a guitar part, which
acts as a secondary melodic line and contrasts with the keyboards
in an almost musical battle.
I can state without hesitation that I really like the music
BlackLove has produced thus far, as evidenced by EP #1.
Although the five primary songs sound quite different from each
other, the end effect is both interesting and intriguing. More
specifically, I particularly like the internal musical unity
in each of the songs between the beats and the simply melodicism
of the keyboards. It makes everything fundamentally accessible
and fun, while some of the overlying sounds and effects challenge
the listener's expectations. The entire combination, combined
with BlackLove's ability to construct a melody, should appeal
to people like me, who like a good tune, but also to more adventurous
listeners who might appreciate something a bit more offbeat
in their music.