Friday, 2 August 2013

Black Sugar Transmission - The Glamour Pantomime

Album review by

A glam-powered industrial super nova statement of intent is how Black Sugar Transmission set out their manifest on the all too brief 'Obedience', lead-track off 'The Glamour Pantomime'. We are then swung into the groove that Prince has been missing since the mid '90s. 'Loud Girls on the L Train', is a filth-set ride down town on a white line to a post-apocalyptic Studio 54. A heady rush burnt along on synths and a singular, decadent vocal which tells of "cocktails, cocaine… sharks tooth’s on the side walk". 'Synthesizer License' comes on like the bastard offspring of NIN 'Closer' and 'Sign O' the Times', with a kaleidoscopic guitar refrain recalling the work of Living Colour's Vernon Reid.

We take a step back from the intensity into 'Hiding in Public Spaces'. This is a more restrained song which is enhanced by a less manic soundscape. It still houses a dark undercurrent, wrapped in a deliciously melodic chorus. Playful, near Daft Punk colour stabs outline 'Love is Theatre'. Its lightness of touch is a welcome breeze after the white heat start. It houses a great pop edge that draws you in and has you dancing around. And so the joyous ride continues with 'This is Art'; another infectious beat hooks into you. A strident guitar that is subversive in its clarity and brightness hits mid-song and soon you are blissfully tied-down to the " filthy, filthy heart". After the delight preceding, 'Favourite Threat' is less immediate, then has the strongest vocal yet, which lifts it sky-high, like Bono on MDMA. The song has an elegant restraint which allows you to languish in its grace.

Then we find ourselves in a darker part of the night where a "whiskey fever has our eyes". The tone is menacing, harder. 'Scandal in Apt #3' has many strong aspects, but doesn't seem to work as well as other offerings. Initially you fear that the faltering is going to infect 'Careful Where You Step', but it is laced with a magical pop hook that sustains the whole song. 'Into Mortal Drains' is a voyeuristic trip along the line of fellow New Yorkers TV On The Radio. It has the same twisted ability to bring disparaging elements into a cohesive, and wondrous whole. As with all the songs, it is sharp and concise, but here you wish for it to evolve into a great beast. And so to closer 'Galaxies of Neon'; a rich hit of glamourous colour and another sublime pop hook. The perfect way to close the album. Black Sugar Transmission are the child of Andee Blacksugar, and he has delivered an album of extremes, intoxicating and human, wrapped in a true technicolor coat.

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