Review Summary: "You're eyes are red and mine are too, I feel like laughing."
Dreams are a very strange thing. A succession of images, ideas, emotions, sensations and even reenactments of past experiences that occur involuntarily in the mind during REM sleep. REM sleep being a stage when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. Dreams often seem so vivid, so real, and we're often so certain that we're in the conscious world. Sometimes there are tells, or signs, that what we are seeing is an illusion, a dream, but somehow we don't catch it right way. It's when we wake up that we remember those things that were a bit off and wonder how we didn't realize it then.
I'm not exactly sure what kind of fantasy it is that is being experienced in the theme of Phosphene Dream
. It could either be talking about a nightmare, or most likely, a drug-induced fantasy. A psychedelic experience caused by hallucinogenic drugs, like LSD, is a lot like being in a dream, they both create illusions of the mind. Our conscious minds become seduced by a fantasy world, and at times we believe it to be real. In the real world we are confined to the laws of reality, but while we dream, or hallucinate, our imagination can run free. And the experiences they can induce could be a pleasant, or an ominous one.
The music of Phosphene Dream differs from it's predecessors. The Black Angels' previous albums, Passover
and Directions To See A Ghost
, displayed a much more Rock-oriented sound. They were more like a Blues band that occasionally experimented with psychedelic effects. But in Phosphene Dream, it's the very opposite. The band embraces it's psychedelic tendencies much more seriously, using ambient effects to create a haunting atmosphere throughout the album. The album begins with "Bad Vibrations"
, already we know that this fantasy world we are entering won't be a pleasant one. There is an ominous chill that "Bad Vibrations"
induces, all caused by a multitude of effects that are the main drive of it's dark sound. "Yellow Elevator #2"
, "Sunday Afternoon"
, and the eponymous track, "Phosphene Dream"
, share the same arrangements were the psychedelic effects overrun the songs, creating a trippy atmosphere that could rival any song by The Mars Volta.
One thing that has been blatantly obvious about The Black Angels' music has been their influence, no, obsession with 60's Acid Rock. After all, the band even takes it's name from, "The Black Angel's Death Song"
, a track by The Velvet Underground. Their love for the 60's can be found throughout their whole discography. "River Of Blood"
contains an organ melody that comes directly from The Doors, it's also decorated with dark imagery from it's lyrics that could have been written by Jim Morrison himself. The filler, "Telephone"
shows a surprisingly more upbeat attitude, a song about a girl who doesn't seem to give our narrator the time of day. It's music contains Surf Rock guitar arrangements that could be seen as a more modern touch of The Beach Boys' style. "Telephone"
, along with it's ill-fitting nature, is weak point for the album and it isn't just that the song doesn't match the album's dark theme but it has such an uninspired orchestration.
The album also contains some of the band's older tendencies, like the sludgy Blues-rock sound that is found in their music is reflected in songs like "Haunting At 1300 McKinley"
and "The Sniper"
. While the desert ballad, "True Believers"
, creates a perfect synergy of all of the band's influences. At the end of the experience of Phosphene Dream, we find that it takes us to familiar territories, and in a way, dissolves some of the excitement. It's a return to the desert scenery that was introduced in their past albums, though I suppose the only difference is that Phosphene Dream shows us what it looks like at night. The album's stronger emphasis on psychedelic effects make for an interesting listen on some of the tracks, but even yet, they all share a similar aesthetic feel that is more reminiscent of past ventures than something new. Still, this is an album with some strange moments that will be sure to satisfy anyone searching for a trippy experience.