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Recording:
  EP # 1  
 
Artist:
  BlackLove  
 
Label:
  Neat Music  
 
Release Date:
  late 2003  
 
Reviewed by:
  Tracers  
         
 
Rating:
   
         
 
Review:
 

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 without surprise.

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.

 
         
 
Related Links:
  Neat Records, home of Black Love.  
         

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