Hippies sailin’ on: Brightblack Morning Light
Brightblack Morning Light, Endless Boogie
The Rocks Off Concert Cruise Boat
August 6, 2007
By David Marchese
Brightblack Morning Light, “Everybody Daylight”(MP3)
A boat, some blunts and Brightblack Morning Light. For the dreamily swaying and deep-toking numbers aboard the Half Moon last night, that’s undoubtedly a trifecta approaching Tinkers to Evers to Chance levels of perfection. For me, not so much. I like to stand, or in the case of a Brightblack show, sit with my mind quiet and mouth agape as much as the next fella—and getting zonked from time to time is probably necessary for maintaining sanity in this dirty, noisy town—but a state of zonk can be brought about by many things. Just last night, the soft undulations of the East River, the geometric beauty of light reflecting on water, the glowing windows of the island’s office buildings—there was plenty aside from the music to get lost in. But the step between coaxing a dream and compelling a snooze is a difficult one. It’s also one Brightblack couldn’t make; at least not for me, not sober, and not nearly as well as undercard act Endless Boogie.
If you can hear the universe in the sound of an electric guitar and suspect the secret to life is hidden somewhere inside a shuffle, then you might consider making Endless Boogie your new masters. These four leathery geezers play monochord John Lee Hooker stomps that go on forever, then go on some more, before arriving at a place where the simple introduction of a new riff achieves face-melting force. Extra color comes courtesy of the jerky-like singer/guitarist’s strangled croak and Gump-simple lead lines, which, like Forrest, are always right time, right place. This was make-out music for broads and bullies. Rough. Relentless. Rocking. The thick stink coming off the river combined with my lack of hydration may have been playing tricks on me, but when the Half Moon brushed by Lady Liberty somewhere between the beginning of Endless Boogie’s set and infinity, I could’ve sworn I saw that big green mama hitch her toga up a couple inches and gimme a wink.
I’m also pretty sure she stifled a yawn during Brightblack. I get that this band of longhairs is trying to take bits and pieces of various zone-out touchstones (freak folk, dub, In a Silent Way, Miles) and strip them down until all that’s left are hints and whispers. And granted, there was something pleasingly alien about cruising around Manhattan enveloped in the band’s amniotic echo, but quiet music doesn’t have to be so flat. The band doesn’t know enough tricks to make its mix of hushed, unintelligible vocals, warm, woozy keyboards and nature-noir horn and guitar licks interesting. At least not interesting enough to compete with the sensory smörgåsbord of a night, a boat, a river and a city. No peaks. No valleys. Hardly any fun.
Looking for clues to the band’s appeal, I resorted to a quick mindmeld with a cotton-mouthed, bloodshot gentleman three feet to my left. So that’s it: the music was dripping like honey from a spoon. But when I exited his smoke-addled brain, “dripping” became “watching”, “honey,” became “paint,” and “spoon” became “dry.”
Bad Brains on a Boat
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 7, 2007