Wilderness of Mirrors by The Black Angels album review by Robert Duguay for Northern Transmissions

Partisan Records

8.6

The Black Angels

Wilderness of Mirrors

When it comes to American psychedelic music, Austin, Texas is the epicenter. Since the mid-60s, the “City Of The Violet Crown” has been exuding ethereal, fuzzed out sounds that continuously change the artistic landscape. For nearly 20 years, The Black Angels have been embracing this tripped out tradition of their hometown in emphatic and poignant fashion.

This is with a dark & amplified edge that includes rhythmic bass & drums, distorted riffs and kaleidoscopic elements. Their sixth album, Wilderness of Mirrors, that’s out on September 16 via Partisan Records consistently extends this artistic approach for what could be their best album in close to a decade.

There’s a cohesive energy within the album that bottles up all the characteristics I just mentioned into an electrifying concoction. This is courtesy of the pristine guitar skills from both Christian Bland and Jake Garcia along with the stellar drumming from Stephanie Bailey. I can’t talk about the awesome tone that’s present without mentioning the alternate bass playing courtesy of Alex Maas and Ramiro Verdooren as well as Maas’ hypnotic vocals. These collective talents make an album that takes the senses to a variety of different places. It’s a sonic voyage that takes some twists and turns but none too drastic for one to handle.

“Empires Falling” is such a badass track with the bass kicking it off and a bombardment of guitars coming in soon afterwards. The drumming in “El Jardin” is purely excellent, Bailey sets the vibe from the get go and never lets up. Encompassing a funky lo-fi vibe, “Firefly” exudes ‘60s styles pop with a lady relaying French lyrics in between Maas’ singing. “Here and Now” comes in with an acoustic foundation and a driven quality moving at a quick pace. Other highlights include “La Pared (Govt. Wall Blues)”, “Make It Known”, “The River” and “Icon”.

The first album that introduced me to The Black Angels was 2010’s Phosphene Dream and the one following that, 2013’s Indigo Meadow, is my favorite release by them. I’m not gonna say that Wilderness of Mirrors is better than those two, but it’s the best one they’ve put out since those were unveiled. It’s an excellent record and anyone who likes a little bit of feedback and reverb with their rock & roll should check it out. Anyone who digs the fuzz of the bass would appreciate it as well. If you can relate to these types of people described in the prior two sentences, grab a copy of the album.