DVA Damas

Nightshade

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AllMusic Review by

A few eyebrows were raised when Karl O'Connor (Regis) signed Californian duo DVA Damas (consisting of Taylor Burch and Joseph Cocherelle) to his Downwards label in 2010. The pair's thrilling sound of '80s N.Y.C. downtown post-punk, minimal electronics, and spiky gothic Western twang didn't seem to match the label's supposed brutal and strict techno output, but this union made perfect sense to anyone with a passing interest in O'Connor's work, as the sounds heard on Nightshade hark back to the influences that helped shape the Downwards label. Signed by Juan Mendez (Silent Servant and one half of Sandwell District with Regis) to the offshoot label Downwards America, the album was described by Burch as having "California written all over it." The result is a record that manages to conjure images of nihilistic heat and jaded deserts, and has the heavy hue of Los Angeles fog hanging over it. Clocking in at just less than 20 minutes of playing time, Nightshade is a jagged electrocuted surf record, yet it easily could be a soundtrack to a doom-laden existential Western (indeed, the pair released a teaser video for "Nightshade [Reprise]" with the track being played over the opening of Sergio Leone's classic 1965 film For a Few Dollars More). The influence of Morricone's spaghetti Western scores seeps into the songs, but it's the fusion of this and the dark electronic undercurrent that makes the record sound so stimulating and vital. Additionally, Burch's deadpan vocal delivery is delectably blank and gives the album added snarl and grit. In essence, Nightshade is a short and dark paean to the City of Angels and is an electrifying and essential debut release.

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