The Spell is the most fitting name yet for a Black Heart Procession record. True, One and Two and Three have economy on their side, and Amore del Tropico nodded toward the intrigue within. But The Spell nails it. Spells are cast over a person, a love affair, a nation, a world; they enchant and entrap, disorient and delude. They are the heart of this record, both the webs they spin and the snap that occurs when theyre broken. And there is no better word to describe the spooky intoxication of The Black Heart Processions sound.
Theirs is the sound of driving at night across the West. Like the wide-open landscape, this is music that knows how to be both desolate and lush. And it knows that while sadness pulls you down, discontent pushes you forward. So the Procession never stops. Here, a songs 6/8 beat will pull you into a moody seductive waltz and next, the violin and piano evoke the house band of a lonesome cabaret with the lights turned low. Then the strings stop their mournful crying and shift into a propulsive thrum, and now weve got the pedal to the metal and were heading straight down the open road into a cinematic twilight.
Theres an echo and a vastness, a sound big enough to fill the night, larger than life. A soundtrack to that midnight drive alone, ghost towns of the heart flickering back to life. This is a band who knows that darkness takes many forms: despair and confusion, yes, but also shelter, escape, and beauty. Hope is held like smoke in the lungs, dizzying and burning. The Black Heart Procession is exactly what their name says they are: a cavalcade of foreboding tenderness. The Spell is cast.
The Black Heart Procession took root in San Diego in 1997, when Pall Jenkins (vocals, guitars, synths, etc.) and Tobias Nathaniel (piano, guitar, organ, etc.) put their previous band, Three Mile Pilot, on an open-ended hiatus. They are the core members of Black Heart, joined by drummer Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse, the Magic Magicians), bassist Jimmy LaValle (The Album Leaf) / Scot Mercado (Manuok/Via Satellite) and violinist Matt Resovich (The Album Leaf).
The Spell is their fifth full-length album. To make it, the band assembled a new recording studio and then traveled between San Diego and Portland, OR to write and rehearse the material. The album was recorded and produced by The Black Heart Procession in their new studio, SDRL, in San Diego.