Michelle Blades - Visitor - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Michelle Blades - Visitor

by Bill Golembeski Rating:10 Release Date:2019-03-29
Michelle Blades - Visitor
Michelle Blades - Visitor

This is rock ‘n’ roll Fountain of Youth stuff. It’s a sonic funhouse ride that is melodic, intense, surreal, loud, complex, humorous, and, somewhere between the buttons, just plain beautiful.

Reference points: I hear Cate Le Bon’s Crab Day, Kate Bush’s The Dreaming, Slapp Happy’s Ca Va (Sort Of), and even the weird (and wonderful) space surf music of The Revillos’ Rev Up (and the great single “Scuba Scuba”). Michelle cites Frank Zappa, Delia Derbyshire (a pioneer of British electronic music), and the 70’s prog and glam era.

This music burbles with creativity. “Politic!” has a tough guitar intro with an (almost) “All of the Day and All of The Night” Kinks chord progression. But Michelle’s voice sings the sonics of the universe while a guitar melodically buzzes and saws through the song. The bass pulses the rotation of the Earth. There is a brief (and beautiful) coda that quells the fury. And then “Behind the Black” slows the groove, until big guitars explode and the voices ascend the heavens, while electronics tinker with the edges of both the tune and time.

Sure, this is very modern prog rock music. The classically inclined Curved Air (with Francis Monkman, Darryl Way, and vocalist Sonja Kristina) comes to mind.

The sweet melodies continue to juxtapose the complexities of the music. “Kiss Me on the Mouth” is gently melodic, while the band squiggles, chimes, and hovers with dense intrigue. “Ring” begins with an acoustic pace, and the song continues to yearn through voiced telephone operator’s remarks until a brilliant psych guitar completes the song with its solo.

But, of course, sweet melodies only go so far. “Dr Psych” pounds away with horror. This is tough psychological music, with more injected voices. It recalls the arty greatness of Kate Bush’s “Get Out of My House” from her The Dreaming album. It’s pretty intense stuff. And “Piri Piri” is simple and melodically weird, in a very French way. It’s repetitious with soaring vocals, and it’s a bit of a joyous (and even comic) relief.  

And comic relief will always spin with humanity’s evolutionary punch line. Thank you, Voltaire, Jerry Seinfeld, and The Bonzo Dog Band.

Then things quiet down. “Time & Water” slows the album into church-like tranquility, with the warm embrace of candles, crypts, and ungodly electronics that evoke unhappy Medieval musical souls. The same is true for “Dr Psych Sue La Plage.” The song bumps history. Rock music seldom does this. “Literally” is a brief confession. And the tune, “Acid on the Hillside,” is simply great melodic and dramatic music with a sad violin. This is music of (to quote astronaut Buzz Aldrin) magnificent desolation.

This album is a tightrope walk that defies the tragedy of a fall.

It’s just an idea, but sometimes, an album like this manages to align all the pop planets in just the right order; and then, magic happens as mere songs become a work of art—music that exhausts the moment’s breath, with a pretty great (and always lingering) record spinning lifespan.

Finally, “Behavior” pulls the magic rabbit out of the very odd, but also very musical hat. Sure, it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but the tune completes the circumference of the record and shoots flares of melody, weird electronics, the odd guitar, and the very human vocals of Michelle Blades that sing into the crisp air for all to enjoy, with the patience of a thick summer evening, grooves that expand with wonderfully weird vibrations, and melodies that will always sound like the best picked apples under the dark skies of any best picked autumn.




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