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The nomadic stylings of Brightblack Morning Light

A review

Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 09:01

Motion to Rejoin, the new album by Brightblack Morning Light, seems to be a combination of psychedelic folk music, with traditional Native American. Every song is slow and sung in a breathy voice, almost as if the singer is trying to lull the listener into a state of subconsciousness. While not the strongest of vocals, the style of singing fits into the music style nicely.

Only two of the eight tracks on Motion to Rejoin are under five minutes, meaning that a large part of the album is musical interlude rather than singing. Often times a song might go on for 90 seconds before any singing starts and then 30 seconds later the singing has ended and there is just music again. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Rachael Hughes and Nathan Shineywater, the core duo that make up the band, present their passion through their instruments just as powerfully, if not more so, than they do with their singing and lyrics.

The album’s strength lies in those extended musical sequences. To best enjoy the music here, one needs to not even try to listen to the words that are being sung and instead hear the music for itself. I have listened to the album four times now and I could not tell you what any of the songs are actually about, and the titles of the tracks – “Hologram Buffalo” and “When Beads Spell Power Leaf” – don’t help me in figuring it out.

But the ignorance of any message the album might be trying to send doesn’t necessarily diminish the enjoyment of the music. It’s quite possible to get lost in the songs as they go from one track to the next. The tracks play not like eight individual songs, but almost like one extended song with brief pauses. Each song seamlessly picks up where the last song ends and fades perfectly into the next track on the album.

The album has become my homework album. The lulling sound doesn’t so much play rather than oozes out of the speakers and into the air. Like the soundtrack to a movie, the music provides background noise that you don’t necessarily notice but still contributes to the feeling of the room or situation.

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