Shake: 4-song 45-rpm record Black Lake by David Brody

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 117 Fall 2011
Issue 117  Front  Cover  Bomb117 Body

Home of the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company


Black Lake 01

Black Lake at DNA Gallery, Provincetown, Massachusetts. July 2010.

A friend once remarked that she couldn’t think of Bruce Springsteen without laughing, perfectly describing my problem with rock and roll. Mind you, I’ve had my moments of abandon, but I’d sum it up this way: I can occasionally plug into the demonic amperage of a Jimmy Page but have always detested the glam posturing of a Robert Plant, indeed, the whole medium of exchange of the rock concert—the waiting, the worship. As for typical alternative rock, which affects to be more grassroots, most of the moody casualness can be plain false—sometimes self-consciously so, which is twice as torturous. Alt/indie lyrics, when parsable, seem to be simultaneously too obvious and too arbitrary; the textures and cadences of the accompanying guitar riffs suffer from a lethargy of musical self-satisfaction.

Black Lake enacts a new paradigm that I can get into. The duo triangulates the rock gig with the presentational detachment of a poetry reading and the DIY-trickiness of an art installation, thereby circumventing the attitudinal idiocies that can inbreed within all three genres of contemporary hipsterism. Slink Moss sing-spiels with an assured, rubbery, cowboy-street-preacher delivery, while Abba-cool Susan Jennings provides backup and engineers layered projections that claim the space around the performance by means of shadows and lush refractions amplifying through dangling, twirling remnant plastics. The posture—equilaterally askew from the performance space, the club, and the pop-up gallery—is all about backing the audience off just far enough to create incantatory elbow room for Black Lake’s precisely strummed Mack-Truck ragas.

Working two rhythm guitars across pairs of glorious, euphonious chords, as in the flamenco-inflected “Beware,” Moss and Jennings configure a compelling pulse of sound from an accessible minimalism. This version of garage primality shares DNA with the band’s efficient light-show projections; and equally with its lyrical opportunism, in which strings of free association (“Beware of the coming frost / Beware of the poison moss”) assert a satisfying rhetorical arrogance by being set onto synesthetic ledges in the wall of rhythm. With such unmonumental glitter, cannily austere Black Lake proves that one needn’t hock the soul to rock out.

David Brody is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn.

Ryley Walker by Andrew Cedermark
Ryley Walker 1
Related
Bill Orcutt and Loren Connors by Keith Connolly
Orcutt Connors Body

Listen to a collaboration between Bill Orcutt and Loren Connors, recorded August 30, 2012 at Georgia NYC. Following the session, Keith Connolly conducted a brief interview with Orcutt and Connors.

Yo La Tengo by Steve Bodow
Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo is marked by the longevity, growth and success of its career. Their new album is their gentlest, quietest, and most texturally nuanced work to date.

Stupid Club’s Made to Feel by Suzan Sheman
Stupid Club

Stupid Club’s first CD Made to Feel is an eclectic collection of songs inspired by vinyl favorites crisscrossing a seemingly limitless range of genres. Stupid Club strikes a balance between looking back at music and adding an air of knowing sophistication in order to make it their own.

Originally published in

BOMB 117, Fall 2011

Featuring interviews with Nick Stillman, Eve Sussman and Matvei Yankelevich, Lisa Yuskavage, Sandford Biggers and Terry Adkins, Geoff Dyer, Neil Michael Hagerty, and Peter Eisenman.

Read the issue
Issue 117  Front  Cover  Bomb117 Body