| urbanology |

Black Heart Procession – amore del tropico

Posted on: July 7, 2008

First I thought I didn´t presented you so much dark music yet, but that´s not true. You can find a haunting collection of dark, enigmatic tunes here, from really depressive tunes, to melancholic gloriousness, technical cold and dark soundscapes or dark, psychedelic and bitter-sweet tunes, which come closest to Black Heart Procession. A uniquely dark and theatrical Americana, a singular mixture of Calexico, Tindersticks, Angelo Badalamenti and then some. The band from San Diego, with a Three Mile Pilot based core and fame, has used saws, stripped-down unconventional percussion, Wurlitzer piano, subtle Moog, and other nontraditional instrumentation to create the kind of carnivalesque dirges we’ve come to expect from Tom Waits over three records before the release of “amore del tropico” 2002. With this fourth release the BHP forges new paths, seemingly inspired by tango infusions the group has left behind their infamous funereal gloom for a noir-laden land of intrigue. The only thing they packed was their trusty saw and a suitcase full of heartache. Or like pitchfork wrote:

The Procession was once funereal through and through, keeping the same slow pace and lonely lyrics throughout. Here, however, they’ve taken their march somewhere south of the border. Judging from the instrumentation and odd flourishes, the narrator of Amore has ventured to a small Central American country of beauty and intrigue. Wherever he is, one thing’s for sure: things are not going quite as planned. The first track, after all, is called “The End of Love”, a 12-second instrumental spurt that introduces the listener to what will be a 55-minute tale of lost love and vengeful murder. The subsequent titular track, “Tropics of Love” (in translation), opens with the band’s trademark instrument, the saw. But then deft strings and hip-swinging percussion set a sexy, noir-ish scene suffused with whispering men and crooning female gypsies. With this record, the band has taken a risky, ambitious leap forward, ditching the capable producer of their previous records, Ryan Hadlock, in favor of manning the boards themselves. The move has paid off in a dense, inspired musical narrative that should, dare I say, surprise fans old and new.

The Black Heart Procession has seamlessly integrated their trademarks—low, strained vocals, eerily whining saw, organ, piano and strings—into an entirely new sound that they wear so naturally. Sometimes darkness is so beautiful!

“Was it here where we left our hearts?” sings Pall Jenkins. “Was it here in the tropics of love?”

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