Black Heart Procession
Amore Del Tropico
The Black Heart Procession must've been lonely, hardened sailors in a former life. It's the only possible explanation for the sorrow-laden, heart-wrenching sea chanteys of their first three CDs. But it seems a strange wind swept them south on their fourth CD, Amore del Tropico, which forges new paths on an unnamed tropical island known more for dangerous women than lawfulness. Seemingly inspired by tango infusions from Tin Hat Trio or Tom Waits, 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.
Amore del Tropico first signals this departure in the title (according to the band's simple naming tradition, this fourth effort ought to be called "Four"). A quick peek at the liner notes revealsno, it couldn't bewry smiles on two members and a still-missing horse head (a stage prop that drenched the band's early shows in uneasy atmosphere). And immediately, the music launches us into the life of a man haunted by memories and regrets and something even larger, a great unnameable. The music has the urgency of someone being followedbe it by ghosts, his crimes or vengeful charactersrather than the sorrowful langor of earlier CDs. Songs are faster, richer, the vocals more realized.
It's a concept album of sorts and best described through the brief lyrics of "The Invitation": "You will always be here with me/ You will find them so willing/ You will find them in the shadows/ You will find us in the shadows/ We hide." The protagonistit might be Sorl, the gangly fellow on the cover standing in front of the bullet-ridden womanof this tale took a wrong turn, accepted the wrong invitation, and woke up one day in shambles, trying to piece together where it all went wrong. It's an incredible cinematic effort that, while completely unexpected from this band, makes perfect sense. But what's really amazing is this 180-degree switch is so deftly rendered. The Black Heart Procession has seamlessly integrated their trademarkslow, strained vocals, eerily whining saw, organ, piano and stringsinto an entirely new sound that they wear so naturally.