Agitated Atmosphere: Suzanne Langille & Neel Murgai – Wild & Foolish Heart

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 pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Suzanne Langille and Neel Murgai.

The blues are more than just a genre born of the Deep South; they are emotion, expression put to music. There’s a sense of openness and regret that remains present despite the continued evolution of the blues that isn’t as palpable in the endless list of genres under which music is classified. The haunting voice of Suzanne Langille carries such weight, ready to dig deep within her soul to tell us a truth we have forgotten. The same can be said of Family Vineyard, fearlessly releasing Wild and Foolish Heart.

The boundless passion and fury of Langille’s anguished moans throughout Wild & Foolish Heart is a moving experience. Lifted by the minimal compositions of Indian composer, Neel Murgai, the album brims with the soulful storytelling and ritualistic patterns of ancient blues classics without leaning too heavily on ancestral hand-me-downs. There are traces of classic blues motifs (wailing, heart wrenching vocals, ominous melodies, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Story of Isaac” and a reading of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”) as Langille and Murgai build tension, but through the mist of time that permeates all great blues records, the duo transfer old feelings of guilt into modern ache. Murgai’s deftness with traditional Indian rhythms lends Wild & Foolish Heart a universal appeal, much like the renewed interest in psychedelic music supplied from West Africa, Japan, and Australia.

Listen to “Child” now:

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These abstract machinations culminate in album finale “Turn Away.” Featuring Langille’s equal, Loren Connors, along with Andre Burnes churning out low down rhythms via guitar, the song gives Murgai’s drumming and Langille’s longing vocals their strongest showcase. Murgai’s playing is focused, and though a bit more traditional than much of the album, Murgai displays the versatility of his native instruments without miring them in 60s mysticism and pop culture nostalgia. Wild & Foolish Heart is a game changer for those who feel the blues have gone the way of radio-ready guitar solos and hackneyed lyrics. All genres can be reclaimed, reanimated, reinvigorated. Murgai and Langille have brought back the blues; don’t let them slip back into their eternal abyss.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. He also pens Deserted for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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