Algiers – Algiers (2015)

Did I mention the amount of intriguing new music that is still being produced?

The proposition here is a passionate, exciting blend of Southern gospel, electronica and post-punk noisy guitars.

This is their first album, though they’ve been working togther for half a dozen or so years. The members all hail from the American south, and there’s a distinct Southern gothic atmosphere to this album. I kept on thinking it would make a fine soundtrack to True Blood. But it wouldn’t – that’s just some association my mind drew between a TV show and a band that have a similar dark, swampy passion. The songs here are too insistent, too impassioned to sit in the background. OK… maybe as a title track …. shut up!

The unlikely sounding fusion works very well. The vocals are rapturous, shouted, soulful, urgent and mesh well with the insistent, noisy instrumentation They really crank up the intensity-meter. The gospel elements are not polite. This is the gospel music of people who fear the devil because he’s real, who are looking for salvation and transcendence and rapture. If you could find and visit this church it would be heaving with energy. There would be glossolalia and folks rolling in the aisles. Zombies would not be welcome. The music would be passionate and visceral.

This primitive gospel music was an ingredient of early rock ‘n roll. And if Johnny Rotten or Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix were going to go to Church they’d be at some crowded, sweaty little building in the Louisiana backwoods handling snakes, not a nice, polite, middle class Methodist chapel.

And there’s the meeting place with the punk energy and deadly seriousness. These guys aren’t fooling around.

I’m writing about this album in visceral, impressionistic terms, and that’s the way to approach it and the way it comes on to you. Interviews with the band show them to be thoughtful and intellectual, and they have clear political points to make.

You put your hand out to shake
Then they export you in chains
You fought
For centuries for change
And they gave you
More of the same
They swapped the dogs
And the cross
For sublimated forestalling
They changed the names
Of the boss
Until you forgot who it was

It’s all there, and they’re serious about it. I frequently get the feeling that they’re waiting for some revolution – preferably divinely inspired, but not necessarily – to sweep the old order away. But the overriding impression is an almost scary, rapturous intensity. There’s an appeal to your brain, but a greater appeal to your innards. The rottenness of the world is overridden by the transcendence of it.

You can probably hire a shaman these days, but this is a whole lot cheaper and can be repeated on your terms.

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