Slip Me an Anodyne
"My voice is not a sound but comes to the soul from all sides."
Darker My Love are one of the most underrated bands in LA—guitarist/vocalist/artist Tim Presley once said money label people told them they play the kind of music that has a "ceiling," and though that is sadly probably correct when it comes to marketing bands to people who are marketing majors, the actual music Darker My Love play has no ceiling—no hard-edged architectural features at all. They make tunes for the curve-cornered room the guy in the H.P. Lovecraft story tries to hide in because he knows bad things come from where hard edges meet, and they are a good old psych rock band if only because they are surrounded by these kinds of confusing contradictions.
Sandy Pearlman called the Byrds the "first technological band ever," and that's a much better word to use than psychedelic. Psychedelic means synaesthetic and Darker My Love does that, too; when you can get guitar parts that cross like light instead of sound you're doing the hard things right, and when you can see the song crawl up the walls like a tenement fire, then you can even take the things people used to say in the '60s in San Francisco a little more seriously.
But technology—as Pearlman uses it to mean magic, science, religion, sci-fi, Child ballads, hill ballads, serious country music, folk and Dylan—makes a band that composes on mechanical principles like the energy and flow in an electrical circuit instead of, say, decision and instinctual impulse. And energy and flow and electricity make bands that go after the nervous system (would you believe one of the DML ex-bands was the . . . Nerve Agents?) instead of the heart and so they have the sort of tonic/chronic/cthonic effects on the human body that generations of corset-bound pioneer women used to seek in laudanum and automatic writing, which was the real birth of American psychedelia, though it took the Byrds to lift the lick from Coltrane and put the name on it. And the Byrds lived in Los Angeles just like Darker My Love—can you believe these connections!
Darker My Love have a deep and crazy sound that dabs off all the wettest head rock from '65 to '95 but they get the flimsiest write-ups calling them only a shoegaze band, though they barely seem to find time while playing to gaze at vital delicate things like their effects pedals or their fingers, much less inert flaps of rubber on their feet. But the same way you could pull Loop apart and find "Real Cool Time," you can pull Darker My Love apart and find "Eight Miles High": bass (Rob Barbato) holding down the horizon line, vocals in understated chorus, guitar parts (Jared Everett) knocking knuckles when they both dip after the high or low registers. And although a song like "Fall" (would you believe half of DML was actually in the last touring line-up of . . . the Fall?) sounds like Loop/Telescopes/Jesus and Mary Chain at their most uncooperative—actually, it's a ringer for As Approved By Telescopes—there's that Byrds energy and flow from first 30 seconds (one beat on the snare, landed from somewhere up high, and then an easy climb to the opening harmony) of their August album on Dangerbird Records to the last 30 seconds (a seasick little fragment of "Summer Is Here" that makes me think of "War Pigs").
No jangle guitar, but the same effect on the jangled personality, which wants a blanket to roll up in but will settle for sound effects of same—Darker My Love even softened a tiny bit for the recording, since I've seen them leave scorch spots on the stage where their shoes stayed still too long, but the circuit remains unbroken. Fast songs roll into slow ones into space-rock drop-outs and guitar solos baked 'til they're dripping and drummer Andy Granelli has the Ride "Seagull" beat (when DML told someone they were a band from nowhere, maybe they meant that record?) ready every time he needs it. Any British or British hopeful would love this instantly but I still think they really got an LA sound at the deepest part, even if they dress it up with a little Britishism. Which Sandy Pearlman saw too: guy on Sunset dressing like Lord Sutch in 1969 and saying, "Slip me an anodyne, mate, for I am ill." And do you know what an anodyne is? It soothes the nerves. Can you believe these connections!
DARKER MY LOVE PERFORMS WITH DJ MYLES HENDRIK AT THE ORANGE COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART, 850 SAN CLEMENTE DR., NEWPORT BEACH, (949) 759-1122; WWW.OCMA.NET. THURS., JAN 18, 6 P.M. FREE. ALL AGES.
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