[CD Review] Brightback Morning Light, 'Motion to Rejoin' (Matador)

As half-awake and weird as ever, the nomadic act Brightblack Morning Light—founded by Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes—have returned with another phantom album. Formed as simply Brightblack and aided by Will Oldham on the little-heard 2004 debut Ala.Cali.Tucky, the band extended its name and signed to Matador for 2006’s self-titled stunner. That’s to say it was a stunner for anyone who stuck around for the album’s entire duration without wandering off or falling into a coma.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Motion to Rejoin—even more so than its predecessor—houses some of the slowest, quietest, most ephemeral music you’ll ever hear. No longer hung up on tent-recorded, West Coast-inspired dream folk, Shineywater and Hughes have settled into a sort of molasses lullaby of ambient gospel. Picture plenty of indecipherable boy-girl whispers, sultry shades of organ, and gently brushed and shaken percussion, with what sound like brass, woodwinds and strings floating lazily past. The songs are so subtle that you’ll lose a lot to the atmosphere without headphones.

Recorded in New Mexico with the aid of solar power and “traditional Native American instrumentation,” Motion to Rejoin at times feels like a sun-soaked daydream that Jason Spaceman might have had between recording sessions for Spiritualized. There’s none of the buildup or release of Spiritualized, though—just a leisurely crawl of sounds that rewards listeners with sharp senses and alienates all others.

It may be up to Brightblack Morning Light’s live show—they come to Detroit Bar on Oct. 21—to prove whether there’s a tangible soul beneath such contented mooning.

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