Album Reviews

Big Black Delta – Big Black Delta

on April 11, 2013, 12:00am
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If Jonathan Bates’ output as the founder and frontman of Mellowdrone constituted an experimental seven-part anthology, then his self-titled LP as Big Black Delta is a sonic prequel highlighting the many sources of inspiration for his earlier lo-fi project.

Free of lyrics, guitars, and percussion, the sterile “PB3″ is an assortment of mellow synthesizer drones that evoke imagery of isolated exploration à la past-collaborator M83’s cinematic scores. It’s how Bates modifies this underlying theme that leads to often extensive differentiation between his solo efforts. On “Dreary Moon”, it is a collection of orchestral strings that provide the ethereal undertones for a duet that leaves Bates’ voice quivering until the track’s final moments, whose vocal quiver evokes David Bowie’s 1975 duet with Cher, “Can You Hear Me”, of all things.

Bates’ romantic messages aren’t always so subtle. Ripping its entire aesthetic of Death from Above, “09 x22″ is a bastardized post-rock love song that could actually benefit from cowbell reduction. Bates then borrows some psych-soul energy from King Khan and the Shrines for “IFUCKINGLOVEYOU”, an ode to a romantic prospect: “Every lovely guest / Gets a glass of fine wine / So make some little babies… I fucking love you.” Taking the vibe to the great pleather age of the ’80s, “Huggin & Kissin” and “Capsize” are great tracks for those eagerly awaiting Depeche Mode’s forthcoming tour.

The peaks of Big Black Delta occur when you’re having too much fun to listen for artistic ties. On “The Zebrah”, Bates sheds the prevailing niceties “Money Rain Down” and “Betamax” for an industrial-tinged single that demands sufficient speaker-rattle.

After exploring BBD, it seems the rest of Mellowdrone wasn’t needed for idea creation as much as containing and editing the various artistic notions generated by Bates.

Essential Tracks: ”IFUCKINGLOVEYOU”, “The Zebrah”, and “Dreary Moon”

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Anonymous
July 2, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Not having ever heard of Mellowdrone, I find myself unencumbered by the need to try to draw connections between this and previous artistic endeavors of the artist. Instead, I find myself enjoying the depth and variety of every track very thoroughly.

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