Black Francis

The Golem

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The Golem Review

by Heather Phares

Trimmed down from the five-disc extravaganza Black Francis sold in a limited edition of 500 copies on his website, this version of The Golem focuses more on his full-fledged songs for the 1920 silent horror film The Golem: How He Came into the World and less on his instrumental cues. While this decision might disappoint some of the film and film score geeks among Francis' fans, the album still has plenty to offer, not the least of which is Francis' reunion with longtime collaborator Eric Drew Feldman. Feldman's keyboards and Francis' voice and guitar just sound natural -- and immediately recognizable -- together. Joined by a backing band that includes Ralph Carney on horns, they craft music that doesn’t borrow too heavily from the ‘20s or from the film’s setting of 16th century Prague, but its loose-limbed rock still conveys the otherworldly eeriness and fable-like story of its source material. The city’s rabbi creates the Golem out of clay to project the Jewish ghetto, but the Golem rebels, devastating the city. “The Obedient Servant,” the Golem’s song of devotion to his master, is strangely sweet, but dark undercurrents lie in lyrics like “Don’t cry/It’s they who’ll die” and its brass melodies. In “Miriam and Florian,” Francis cleverly captures the love affair between the rabbi’s daughter and her knightly suitor, turning the song into a mini rock opera in its own right. The enjoyment that Francis and crew display in channeling the film’s devilish moments (“Astaroth,” “The Conjuring”) as well as its tender ones (“The Flower Song,” “[Oh How I Wish I Could] Stay") is palpable even in The Golem's edited state, and the project suggests another exciting realm in which Francis can prove his talent.

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