Someone just knew that we here at Blabber’n’Smoke have a soft spot for music that is dry and dusty and reeks of gulches and sand storms. Sure enough, we’ve reviewed plenty of albums which can fit into that bill, ranging from the “erosion rock” of Giant Sand to the monumental shifting sandscapes of 3hattrio, and so when we were sent this superb slice of cinematic instrumentals, hewn from the mystical Joshua Tree National Park where the Rev. currently resides, it fit right in.
As the title indicates this is the third in a series of albums intended as (and in some cases used for) soundtracks with the tunes often inspired by long drives through inspiring landscapes. The Reverend, real name Lucio Menegon, is an intriguing character, according to Google, fitting into both avant-garde and Americana circles with perhaps the closest comparison being Marc Ribot. Whatever, this album is on a par with any soundtracks released by Ry Cooder with Menegon’s guitar slipping wonderfully from low-bellied twang, atmospheric slide and liquefied mercury runs. Behind his versatile guitar there’s an incredibly simpatico band laying down the bedrock with inventive percussion to the fore with the overall sound not dissimilar to that achieved by the Italian band Sacri Cuori or the fairly obscure UK band, A Small Good Thing.
Aside from the excellence of the playing it’s the atmosphere conjured up by the tunes which really makes an impact. From the start on No Destination we’re in desert territory with Menegon’s guitar rippling over fuzzy rhythm and battering drums, the Monument Valley tune here. Chaparral Kiss in contrast opens with a strummed acoustic guitar before a skewed mandolin is inserted over some tentative keyboards, the effect almost oriental. This effect is fully blown on the following Dream Of The Desperado, a lengthy meditation suffused with slide and pizzicato guitar over an insect buzz of percussion reminding the listener of that weird hybrid of Zen Buddhism and Westerns that was David Carradine in Kung Fu. Whether it’s intentional or not, the basic riff on Lost Alien Highway recalls the melody of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme while the sound effects on Funereal, a rainstorm pouring from the speakers, summons up visions of muddy farewells in fields of broken homemade crosses. But perhaps the best evocation here is in the fly blown and sun scorched Yuma Interlude where the guitar is almost tearful. Listen to this and surely your head will be infused with images from movies going back to High Noon through Morricone up to Tarantino. It’s quite spine chilling.