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The Black Heart Procession - Six

The Black Heart Procession


(Temporary Residence Limited)

Owls, candles, drugs, witches, whores, the devil, love, and the occult. If there is one thing San Diego’s Black Heart Procession have perfected with their aptly titled sixth album, it is documenting the night. Their dark yet lush corner of indie rock makes good company for all things nocturnal—and I can’t think of a better way to ring in another October. Six paints darkly opaque scenes of forgotten ghosts and loves gone awry, told with an attitude of indifference mixed with a hint of self-destruction. That said, is it weird to say that this album comes off as comforting rather than grim?

Black Heart Procession’s dark music has always brought to mind the American gothic style fashioned by the likes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. This, combined with the candid romanticism of Leonard Cohen, give them their own sound and leave them plenty of room to experiment with other ingredients every now and again. On Six you’ll hear them dabble with synthesizers, notably on “Witching Stone,” a driving ballad where a hazy synthesizer flirts with the main piano line, adding a dream-state feeling to the song. If Fritz Lang directed Blair Witch, this track would make a suitable addition to the score.

“Rats” finds BHP a little more up-tempo than usual but hardly upbeat when the chorus hits: “I can’t seem to die/And I can’t stay alive.” Atmospheric backing vocals and uppity guitar rakes are countered nicely by a revving-electronic effect that haunts the empty space between the other instruments. “Suicide” is an ominous, fuzzed-out dirge, while “Forget My Heart” clamors along like a drunk and dark “London Calling.” The jazzy upright bass of “All My Steps” are complimented well by the doubling of Philip Glass-like strings throughout the song.

Think of this album as a collection of love songs endorsed by Bela Lugosi or a lyrical voodoo doll. Black Heart Procession have fashioned a career by successfully translating mood into song, and they have succeeded where so many others have failed because no matter how bleak things get, they never forget the element of warmth. This is what makes the music something you can almost touch and see, rather than just fall prey to. The songs themselves provide the bleak stories, while the warm production and vintage tones spark the fire to tell them by. So bundle up! It’s story time.

eric kendall

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