Big Black Delta, Tour EP

Published on August 30th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

big black delta tour EP cover

While Big Black Delta might seem like the name of a blues band, the new musical incarnation of former Mellowdrone and touring M83 member Jonathan Bates sounds nothing like that genre.

The new four-song EP from the band—created for their recent tour—sounds more like the soundtrack to an apocalyptic Blade Runner sequel; you can almost visualize Rachael smoking in the Tyrell Corporation building. Fitting, as Big Black Delta is actually a reference to UFO folklore.

Even with its vaguely retro synths, “Betamax” isn’t some Kraftwerk retread. The drums are too booming, and Bates’s voice is too romantic for that. What’s striking is how warm and sensual his voice is against the coldness of keyboard explosions, especially when he breaks out the falsetto. The end ushers in some Hans Zimmer-ish synthy strings before ending abruptly.

“IFUCKINGLOVEYOU,” despite its Twitter hashtag title, is just ridiculously good. On first listen you might not quite embrace it, but give it time. After a few more spins, you’ll wake up with it blasting in your head and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. There is something akin to a gospel choir—or perhaps a witches’ sabbat—throughout, as well as an electronic brass section and driving drumbeats that will absolutely give you chills. Bates’s voice is even more prominent here and his shrieking provides an emotional crescendo to match the hysterical gorgeousness of the rest of the song. There are even some Daft Punk-sounding vocoder vocals and a long, long comedown.

IFUCKINGLOVEYOU from Big Black Delta on Vimeo.

The sinister beat of “Put The Gun On The Ground” provides gravitas for the frilly ’80s new wave pop keyboards and angelic vocalizations. This is serious dance floor music. The warped ending is an unusual, yet satisfying choice. Despite the precision of the music, there is a feeling of blown-out speakers; not crisp, but instead, crunchy.

“Leonard McGeonard vs. Drunken Calculator” is pretty much what it sounds like, and the aforementioned crunchiness is delicious. The textures in this track—a contrast between bassy, spacey undertones and jittery, musique concrète stylings—is haunting. The whole ensemble is coated in distorted, unintelligible, yet soothing vocals.

The range of sounds on this Tour EP are diverse yet unified in spirit and ultimately thrilling. In a recent interview with Trash Audio, Bates said, “I’m planning to release an EP every 3-4 months.” This is excellent news. I am also greatly anticipating a potential Big Black Delta’s full-length release later this year.

The Big Black Delta Tour EP is streaming, temporarily, on Life and Times, but I urge you to purchase a copy so you can hear this behemoth on headphones. You can download and/or purchase the various incarnations of the songs on the Tour EP from the Big Black Delta website.

Tour Dates:

August 31 2012 – @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre (BC) Vancouver w / Jane’s Addiction
September 4 2012 – @ Keller Auditorium, Portland w / Jane’s Addiction
September 5 2012 – @ Grand Sierra Resort & Casino, Reno w / Jane’s Addiction
September 6 2012 – @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA – Headline Show

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