Release Date: Sep 23, 2008
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Freak-folk is a decent genre signifier to attach to Devendra Banhart (the guy does mostly dress like he’s living out Lord of the Rings day to day), but it’s a quaint way to describe Brightblack Morning Light. The label has stuck with the band since its self-titled second album started getting press. It’s hard to imagine that the classic-rock-referencing folk of Banhart and the like could even come close to being similar to the droning haziness that permeates and drips off every Brightblack Morning Light song.
Thanks to their relocation to the rural, mountain-laden landscapes of New Mexico, it’s easy to mythologize Brightback Morning Light’s schtick and vibe. Their place has solar panels, meaning the duo could only record when the sun was out. It reeks of that Zabriskie Point dusty canyon heat, all sensual and brooding. You can practically see the wobbly mirage of an oasis in the distance.
If you thought the first two BrightBlack Morning Light records were adrift in a sea of languidity, you won't be surprised by the third -- unless, of course, you'd think that after being begged to add some variety to their sound, the duo would pull back from the brink. Proving themselves perfectly immune to criticism, BrightBlack Morning Light do nothing but chill out yet farther on Motion to Rejoin. Recorded in the secluded New Mexico desert with many self-enforced limitations -- most notable of which is the restriction of studio power to direct solar radiation (aka daylight) -- Rachael Hughes and Naybob Shineywater have fashioned another record that cobbles together eight tracks from what seems like a maximum of two or three different grooves.
Shamanic soul duo Brightblack Morning Light certainly haven’t refashioned their arrowhead with Motion to Rejoin, their second effort for Matador Records. The Native American-inspired team of Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes hit repeat for another round of blissed-out boogie, but the tunes’ enveloping qualities only partly make up for the fact that they all sound alike. Which isn’t to say there aren’t a couple of differences between Motion and its self-titled predecessor.
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.