Sweltering rockabilly, sedated tempos, and unsettling electronic noise combine for a bizarrely austere form of rural beauty on Calla's second record. Differing from most slow-motioned indie acts, the occasional lazy tempos seem to be borne of the withered and dazed effect from oppressive heat and humidity, rather than earmuffed nippiness. Aurelio Valle's whispered, tense, and plaintive intimacy gives off the effect of a disturbed Joe Pernice. His tone is pretty fatalistic, but he sounds perfectly at home in his discomfort without veering into doom and gloom. His guitars endlessly churn and bristle, highlighted most effectively on "The Swarm," the rockist centerpiece of the album that ends with three minutes of dissonance-drenched rockabilly on the level of prime Gun Club and early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The inspirations aren't all swampy; the six-minute "Tijerna" concludes with repetitive Velvet Underground/Joy Division spirals of guitar. "Mayzelle" and "Fondness for Crawling" act as interludes on the second half of the record, consisting of nothing but ambient noise -- otherwise, the electronics nestle or emanate from underneath the more "proper" songs like gas fumes from a parched roadway. There's a ton of low end, too. The final touch is a dusty cover of U2's "Promenade," which is more properly formatted for a Wim Wenders film than any other by the Irish band, despite the ill-suited lyrics. If you're dealt with a midnight power outage in 100% humidity, hope that there are batteries left in the boombox to play this solemn, sturm-und-drang work of restrained, immense power. Despite the disparate elements, everything comes together ridiculously well.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman