BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT: Motion To Rejoin [Matador]

Recording in a New Mexican mesa using only solar power, Brightblack Morning Light is happy to retreat from apocalyptic dread and collapsing economies into a cocoon of its own opiate utopia. “Nobody wants oppression/We don’t need oppression,” sing keyboardist Rachael Hughes and guitarist Nathan Shineywater. Set to a featherweight, time-stretched melody, it sounds like “oppression” could be something as simple as a harsh buzz, never mind suicide bombers and food riots. What they’re getting at with song titles such as “When Beads Spell Power Leaf” is anyone’s guess. But the problem on Motion To Rejoin isn’t that they’re laid-back hippies; it’s that the bottom has fallen out of the magical sound of 2006’s self-titled sophomore LP. Gone are the quietly insistent tom drums, shakers and cymbal swells that provided an essential pulse and tethered Hughes and Shineywater to earth. The traces of muscular gospel and blues have also dissipated, leaving only ghostly voices adrift on waves upon waves of reverb-heavy Rhodes pianos set to maximum vibrato—all of which starts inducing nausea after prolonged exposure. Brightblack Morning Light has always been a druggie band; this time, however, the drug of choice is Dramamine. [www.matadorrecords.com]

—Michael Barclay

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