Angels of Light, Angels of Light Sing: Other People

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 11.27.11 in Reviews
An expansive work set free from the band’s percussive anchor

The ever-restless Michael Gira switched things up once again with the fourth Angels of Light record, replacing most of the now-familiar lineup with the members of another band, Akron/Family, whose debut album he had co-produced. He adopted a new constraint for the project, too: no drums. The results, set free from that percussive anchor, are more ragged and even more expansive, in their own way — not pushing against the sky, but running roughshod over cracked ground in thin rivulets of banjo and dulcimer and the kind of wild, erratic vocal harmonies you might hear in an old-time revival meeting. Even the lyrics are more worldly: “Michael’s White Hands” presents Michael Jackson as a vengeful god and a symbol of America’s undoing, while “Destroyer” channels Gira’s longstanding apocalyptic obsessions into a thinly veiled 9/11 frame. Brimming with choruses, yelps, and even, on “Purple Creek,” the sound of crickets, it’s a campfire album — but one for the days after the cities have burned down, when “We’ll walk freely through the mountains and the trees/ And we’ll breathe deep again where the air is pure and clean / And we will drink freely from the milk of our revenge.”