Black Love | Unlust (Hertz-Lion)
This excellent EP gets five stars, after I talk a bit about
the why of its existence and how it’s all about you. Black Love’s Unlust EP on beauteous vinyl is music for those special times when you, dear heart, are not feelin’ the love, at all, at all. Or say you are feeling the love –– the e-mo-shun –– but that feeling’s not a warm, fuzzy thing because for one you’ve got nowhere to put it, ain’t nobody no more, and it’s just not right. These imbeciles, you think, they have no idea what you are capable of, and I mean the good things. Why, they probably never even had a clue about you, you say to console yourself.
And it gets gnarlier. You want to lash out, most
cruelly at yourself. Because it hurts real good. There’s that weird thing encoded in misery music,
how it’s got to be pleasurable on some level in order for the pain to really come through. You
don’t need it, but you want it. You have to want it. And so Unlust comes through loud ‘n’ clear in that sort of context. Unlust is a musical Ipecac for when that fluffy, wonderful feeling with the big sunshiney flower in the middle got sick and sour then putrid. It got like something you should’ve taken out to the dumper and been done with a loooong time ago…Ha! Like that’s really possible.
Black Love is the name of the band, comprising singer-lyricist David Cotner, also on Tibetan bells, Nepalese singing bowls and mule jawbone; bass/electronics guy Sergio Segovia, and ex-Saccharine Trust drummer Tony Cicero on schlagzeug. They were aided in the recording of the EP by Paul Roessler (Screamers, Nina Hagen). Together they make rock music where rock music is defined as a group sound that employs electric instruments and amplification (sometimes), exploits physical response to make its lyrical and conceptual points, and is propulsive, driving determinedly forward even as it dredges up dreck from the dreadful past.
Black Love’s bleak is one of those bountiful bleaks that puts all your “love” stuff in perspective much like the way that rapper said a long time ago: They’re like photographers and shit, they don’t just take pretty pictures of buildings, trees, puppies and hamsters; the building’s abandoned and gone to seed, sad and smelly like an old, old man; that tree loses ALL its leaves every damn year! Those li’l doggies? If you don’t feed them, they die.
I choose to hear the band’s name as Black Glove, so when I’m hearing their ambiguous yet very direct music it’s not quite an assault on the senses, more a beating on the synapses. It has a genuinely dangerous vibe to it, too, the Big American Party Spoiler, not quite a turd in the punchbowl but that angry and sad goonboy crud who has all the best records and zits and hates sports and you didn’t invite him to your fuckin’ party so why don’t you just blow him cuz he’s got more important things to think about.
Music for sociopaths, not out and out psychopaths, is what Black Love does, which means it’s for most of us. Sociopathic music is best done in a very controlled and meticulous way, which Black Love is especially good at; they know how to use space as in absence of sound so effectively, like on “Insight,” where Cotner croons like Ian Curtis/Jim Morrison, sings "I have found a way…to give you away," and it’s creepy because he’s obviously long since locked himself away in some remote stinky closet of rejection and festering frustration and slowly creeping hardening of the heart. Other tracks revel in insistent, remorseless bass-string-pop riff/groove and sledgehammer drums punctuated gloriously by the sound of a bell.
What’s most potent in this sound is the silence you hear as you wait for the knife to strike (or just the cutting word). I would like to mention also that the drum sound on all four tracks is farging fantastic on headphones, and that mixing bells and drums is always a good idea, it just adds major zing to the dynamics and drama of most any kind of music. And like how on the closing “Had a Bad Dream” there's a ton, a ton I tell you of headroom on these recordings, and I do believe you could, like a scholar, cite this EP as a fine example of how one ought best capture on vinyl the entire messy spectrum of audio frequencies for maximum thrills and chills. It’s a really great sound that you feel in your bones when you dig them up again.
Now, while I may be completely misinterpreting Black Love’s lyrics (which are included in this superbly packaged record), I did for a fact get several extraordinarily vivid images from the super-resonant sound they make. These images, tinted black like all colors combined, were the hue of my true love’s flask of bleak, the one I carry in my back pocket. I use it when I need reminding that it can’t all be good, otherwise none of it would be.
–– John Payne
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