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November 23, 2009

Black Feelings – S/T (2009, Alien 8)

The debut album from Montréal-based band Black Feelings was released last month, and if you’ve been following this band at all, it’s no doubt an exciting release. If you’ve never heard of them, take note, this is a band worth paying some attention to.

As an indication of their sound, the group’s name works quite well, as they’re playing with some dark stuff. The balance between amazement and fright that (good) psychedelic music often toys with so deftly is maintained here through a near constant sense of dread. It’s a heavy, haunting record, with a lot of indistinct components. There are pounding drums, fuzzed-out synth constantly churning away, ghostly basslines, a little bit of guitar, and chanting vocals that often sound like they’re emanating from somewhere beyond the music, all coming together in a mesmerising amalgam that touches upon numerous sounds and styles. To say it’s simply psychedelic punk or some such thing would be falling short, but, whatever it is, it certainly passed through some serious psych territory on in its way. The record is no more weird or experimental than it needs be, though, and, clocking in around thirty-six minutes, it doesn’t fall into the trap of indulgence.

The tracks switch between ferocity, head-nodding fuzz, and drone quite easily, and the band have a great sound established for themselves. A friend once tried to describe a live performance by this band by saying it sounded like a ufo flying through space, which is probably as good a description of it as you’d get from anyone. They seem to be striving intently toward the unspoken things, allowing the music to be its own explanation, and the eight incantations on this record serve that purpose quite well. In the end, one of the best things that can be said about this record is that it’s only their first.

If you’re interested in more, check out their Aum Shinrikyo Endless Montréal cassette, a longer, freaked-out version of this album’s closing track, now in digital form over at the WFMU archive.

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