I’m not, as a rule, fixated on the idea of ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ music, but still, the arrival of the third Brightblack Morning Light album last Friday was incredibly well-timed. I can’t think of a band who make such profoundly horizontal music, who create a soundtrack for being happily paralysed by extreme heat. Or, I suppose, by other stuff.
“Motion To Rejoin” got hammered all last weekend, and we’ve been playing this wonderful record in the office all week, too. When Brightblack’s last, eponymous album came out in the UK, in the unusually sticky summer of 2006, we would play it at around 3pm every day in the old Uncut offices, where the capricious aircon, the crammed-in computers and the cruel angle of the windows combined to make the whole space unbearably hot. “Brightblack Morning Light” didn’t make it any more physically comfortable, but I guess it helped us mentally adjust to the heat. To slow down, really.
Around that time, I interviewed Rachael Hughes from the band on the phone, while she hiked around the national park just outside San Francisco where she and Naybob Shineywater were camping at the time. Now, these notoriously free spirits appear to have fetched up in New Mexico: “Motion To Rejoin”, we are told, was recorded at their adobe hut on the mesa, with the electric energy provided by solar power.
Brightblack, as you may be piecing together if you didn’t know already, are serious hippies, of a kind who’ve sporadically tried to ban military personnel from their gigs, and who’ve been known to have a large, sleepy dog as part of their onstage line-up. What’s more important, though, is that they make some of the most lazily, discreetly meticulous music I’ve heard in the past few years, and provide some deep solace for those of us who feel Spiritualized have strayed from the just path of late.
I think that, in some review of the last album, I mentioned that Brightblack follow through on the possibilities presented by Jason Pierce on “Ladies And Gentlemen”s “Cop Shoot Cop”. That still holds here. Ostensibly, I guess this is a skilful underground-rock extrapolation of Dr John circa “Gris Gris”: drained, ethereal vocals from Shineywater, anchored by Hughes’ emotionally responsive Fender Rhodes. There are fantastically leisurely, bluesy horn sections flitting in and out of the heat haze, gospel-tinged choruses, and some extraordinarily lethargic calls for insurrection: “Oppressions Each” seems to have a chorus of “Police oppression!”.
The general dazed sloth of it all is infectiously psychedelic, but it’d be a mistake to assume that this music was haphazard and wasted. There’s a sense that everything has been meticulously charted, that the soulful swells of the horns on, say, “Another Reclaimation” know exactly where they have to go. “Motion To Rejoin” is a record of great measure and intuitive consideration, I suspect the result of sustained and focused jams, and it has a great stealthy dynamic as well, so that by “Past A Weatherbeaten Fencepost” there’s a cumulative intensity which has increased the pace to something like urgency.
Anyway, you can grab an MP3 of the mighty “Hologram Buffalo” over at the Matador site, and behold a striking picture of the duo in their natural environment. One thing, though: without getting too hung up on this weather business, it seems strange we have to wait until November for this to be released in the UK?