The Black Angels

Clear Lake Forest EP

Written by: BV on 17/08/2014 14:14:03

Following the release of 2013’s ”indigo Meadow” the vast majority of The Black Angels’ fans seemed divided. - Had they gone too mainstream? Was the production in fact a smooth-polished version of The Black Angels? Well, my own personal thoughts seemed to suggest that the production was indeed a bit too polished for my own personal liking, diminishing the otherwise powerful effect tracks like “Indigo Meadow”, “Holland” and “Don’t Play With Guns” would have had, had the production been more like the immersive “Directions to See a Ghost”. However, with their newest release, an EP titled “Clear Lake Forest” (originally released on Record Store Day but now available in a larger quantity), The Black Angels seem to bridge the gap between their former soundscapes and their more slick productions of newer date.

Opening with “Sunday Evening”, the EP starts off as lazily hypnotic. The vocals reverberating delightfully on top of the laid-back groove of the rhythm section while the guitars jangle away as per the usual agreement. The song seems to carry itself in a strange fashion – there is no evident force that pushes it forward, yet somehow the track progresses rather smoothly and eventually culminates in an up-tempo mayhem. - A good start to an EP if there ever was any. With “Diamond Eyes” the soundscape turns rather melancholic with a tremolo-laden chord progression lurking in the background before the full band makes its entrance – resulting in a sort of epic, lush sound that has the same immersive qualities of much of The Black Angels earlier work, whilst maintaining that sort of pop-sensibility that was essentially the modus operandi of “Indigo Meadow”.

“An Occurrence at 4507 South Third Street” is probably the most peculiar track on the EP – both in terms of title and soundscape. In terms of the title, I am apparently not the only one (other reviews have also stated this) who perceives it to be a faint hint in the direction of a short story called “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” wherein the lead-character, Peyton Farquhar, is caught and sentenced to hang, after being caught in the act of sabotage during the American civil war. During his execution, his perception of time, memory, and physical reality begins to warp drastically – culminating when he vividly hallucinates, and ultimately dies after experiencing one last spasm of happiness and hope. The reference becomes relatively clear with the hazy dreaminess of the track and the somewhat morbid humor of the line “You Keep Me Hanging On”. It’s all speculation of course, but with that speculation in mind, the track comes off as a distinct highlight of the EP due to the clever lyrics, the reference in the title and the hazy soundscape that accurately portrays a state of vivid and powerful hallucinations.

Veering a little off track there, the point of this review still stands. “Clear Lake Forest” essentially bridges the quite large gap between the “Indigo Meadow” and “Directions to See a Ghost” eras of The Black Angels’ soundscape. If given time and effort, the sound they have crafted on this EP might very well become something that most fans of The Black Angels – both newer and older – can agree sounds pretty damn cool.


Download: An Occurrence at 4507 South Third Street, Diamond Eyes, The Executioner
For The Fans Of: Christian Bland & The Revelators, Elephant Stone, The UFO Club
Listen: Facebook

Release date 22.07.2014
Blue Horizon Records

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