Release Date: Jul 10, 2015
Record label: A Recordings
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
While Anton Newcombe — best known for his role as leader in the consistently volatile and often brilliant Brian Jonestown Massacre — may have a reputation for being difficult to work with (or to be around at all), his team-up with Toronto native Tess Parks sounds like a match made in heaven, and if the tunes on I Declare Nothing are any indication, Newcombe and Parks have stumbled into a stellar musical relationship. That's because each of the gifts both artists bring to the album — Parks' gravelly voice, which sounds like she just woke up from heavy sedation, overflowing with so much ennui it almost seems aggressively lethargic, and Newcombe's deft hand for masterfully subtle psychedelic arrangements — complement the other in a swirl of dark, hazy dreamscapes. It takes a bit of close listening to separate the songs, but there are nuanced dynamics in tracks like "German Tangerine" and album highlight "Mama" that break apart the great from the really good.
Anton Newcombe can never be accused of letting up in his pursuit of the new. The frontman of cult psych-rockers Brian Jonestown Massacre can’t seem to stop making music, either with his own band or with musicians on his own A Recordings imprint. I Declare Nothing sees him team up with Toronto-born singer-songwriter Tess Parks, a veteran of Alan McGee’s post-Creation label, 359 Music, for an album of dark, swirling shoegaze.
It’s hard to believe the youthful, bright-eyed visage that adorns I Declare Nothing‘s sleeve belongs to Tess Parks. On voice alone you’d imagine her to appear somewhat, well, different. Y’know, more like a less well-preserved Keef Richards who’d spent the last few decades living in a dumpster, dressed in dishevelled rags and surviving solely on a diet of Meths, raw potatoes and recovered cigarette butts.
Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Tess Parks joined forces at the start of 2014. I Declare Nothing is the lingering consequence of their collaboration. Recorded in the heat of a Berlin summertime, their joint debut is forty minutes of scorching vocals and sweltering refrains, ambling rhythms and elated rhapsody. Equal parts deep and blissed out, I Declare Nothing would be all too easy to switch off to and float away on.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre's Anton Newcombe has certainly suffered at the hands of his detractors, both within his fanbase and outside of it. To the former, his excursions into the territories of loops, electronics and beats since the release of 2010's Who Killed Sgt. Pepper and his subsequent relocation to Berlin have proved a step too far; for them this is less of a band and more a one-man show displaying way too much interest in technology.
You’d be forgiven if you thought this might be the new Mazzy Star from the greyish purplish tint of the cover to the belladonna drenched vibe of the music. The real head scratcher is that this chick Tess can’t sing. Trying to evoke a late Zabriskie Point type vibe, the album never achieves liftoff. This is primarily because of her I’m too cool don’t need to rehearse let me smoke a pack before recording sound of her voice.