Wednesday, January 28, 2015

FIRST IMPRESSION: Black Sugar Transmission - Violent Muses

Andee Blacksugar makes sexy music.  It’s really that simple.  Coming off a stint as touring guitarist for Peter Murphy, Blacksugar follows up 2013’s “The Glamour Pantomime” with an album that both hews darker than its predecessor while also being a bit more accessible.  All of the hallmarks of his past decade’s work in Black Sugar Transmission are here – the mechanical bump and grind, synths flittering around the mix, his high keening vocals, the Vernon Reid-like guitar runs.  But, like the kinky cover art, the album is concerned less about the feel of the NYC dancefloor and more the primal need for connection in a world that’s relationship with technology is complicated at best.  And sometimes that means breaking out the pink rope!

While there are a couple things here that harken back to Blacksugar’s past albums (the disco fantasia of “Hey Wildflower” being the best and most dance-worthy example, though he does allow for a squiggly bit of guitar heroics), he breaks new ground throughout with the Mr. Bungle-indebted “The World Is Yr Ashtray”, the late-90’s Bowie-esque “Watch the Windows” and the sheer ferocity of opener “Stripes”.  The more extensive use of outside musicians (particularly the use of live drums on a majority of the tracks and Ava Farber’s transcendent vocals throughout) gives the album a stronger and more consistent feel, as if Blacksugar is playing tug of war with some of his collaborators over the fate of his songs.  It’s beautiful, thrilling, and a nice step forward. 

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