As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Theo Angell.
Minus the Tabernacle Hillside Singers and the brand of Appalachia his loosely knit back-up brought him, Jackie-O Motherfucker contributor Theo Angell falls in line with the likes of Dave Shuford; harnessing the twang, folk, and quietness that is often broken and busted in jagged experimentalism and projecting it in hushed bursts. Tenebrae, Angell’s latest via Amish Records, delves deep into the neglected crevices of Ozark psychedelia with the help of genre bending luminaries Samara Lubelski, Matt Valentine, and PG Six.
The result is an album equally soothing and unnerving. Tenebrae exists on a third plane — the place where the physical and spiritual realm intersect, share information, and disperse on their merry way to reach each’s final destination. Much of Angell’s melodies exist in reality — hard boiled guitar plucks that could very well call Appalachia and southern back porches home. It’s the seedy underbelly of Tenebrae, however, that provides the album a depth only the unknown can fathom. A spectre floats over every key, string, and vocal. Angell’s adeptness at portraying our séance conductor is ever-present, bridging the ghostly with the worldly. The brew he concocts from his witchly mix bubble furiously but never overflows. Angell isn’t trying to frighten — although the Banshee wails and woeful moans of the dead occasionally put a scare into you if you’re not paying attention — but to enlighten. Labeling Angell’s latest as freak folk would, for a change, be doing Tenebrae a fruitful favor.
Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up and Thursday edition of Song of the Day for the KEXP Blog. You can now follow him on Twitter.