For the California based duo Brightblack Morning Light, no better name could suit. On the group’s third effort, Motion to Rejoin, each song unfolds to reveal dark and powerful notes that coexist with bright pleasant tones in perfect harmony. If Talk Talk and Spiritualized collaborated on a cover of a Black Keys song, arranged by Miles Davis during the Bitches Brew sessions with the help from Can, it would sound something like this. That being said, listening to Motion to Rejoin is like staring up at the bright sun from underwater, as you slowly sink into a dark abyss. As you drop deeper and deeper, that light fades in and out, but you are not afraid.
The reason this metaphor holds true for the album’s entirety is because of the intentional confusion created by Rachael “Rabob” Hughes and Nathan “Nabob” Shineywater’s instrumentation and accompanying vocals. The darkness subdues and weighs down the tracks, while the brighter sounds simultaneously elevate them. The same tricks work throughout the entire album: heavy, dark bass, epic swirls, horns, bright organ, even brighter melodica, wa-wa infused funk riffs, and whispery dreamy atmospheric vocals. The combination of each ingredient creates music so pleasantly overwhelming that all you can do is let it all happen, right before your ears.
Motion to Rejoin begins with a short instrumental intro which transitions perfectly into “Hologram Buffalo”. The song’s fuzzed out jazz organs begin, first alone, but are soon overpowered by the darkest of dark drums and bass. It’s here where we catch the first example of Brightblack Morning Light’s infatuation with the juxtaposition of light and dark. Then come the echoed and almost unintelligible vocals, which prove that it doesn’t really matter what is being said. It is the kind of music that finds listeners on the fence between falling asleep or taking an acid tab. This continues as the album proceeds through “Gathered Years”, a song with a horns section that recalls a very slowed down “Spirit in the Night”. The track’s eight minutes do not come across as long at all, as the song leaves us with the faint whistle of flutes. Each subsequent track follows with generally the same style, but surprisingly, the record never finds itself becoming too repetitious.
Little tweaks and techniques slightly differentiate each song from the one before. For example, “Another Reclaimation” begins with sharp feedback a la “Venus in Furs” before reincorporating organ, gentle guitar licks, and tambourine. “Summer Hoof” utilizes subtle crash cymbals and faint background banging surrounded by the buzzing of feedback and drawn out horns, and for the first time on the album, a distinct drum roll. “Past A Weatherbeaten Fencepost” starts with radio static that is soon washed out by the heaviest horns on the album and joined with female humming, before fading to static once again and cutting out. The lack of dramatic variation from song to song not only helps with the album’s cohesiveness, but works to smoothly perpetuate the daze that the record’s first track induces.
As the album comes to a close, you slowly swim above the water, away from the darkness and towards the light, blink a few times, and return to the real world. If you are looking for raw energy or something to wake you up in the morning, Motion to Rejoin may not be for you, but if you want to get away for a while and lapse into a psychedelic “brightblack” trance, this is your best bet.