Carla Bozulich, Evangelista

Alan Light

By Alan Light

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


Carla Bozulich

Since the disintegration of her major-label alt-country outfit the Geraldine Fibbers, Carla Bozulich has increasingly investigated experimental music as another way to recast traditional American musical forms (see her ingenious remake of Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger). Here she takes on gospel music, but with the ambience of an exorcism. This is a dark-night-of-the-soul album; Bozulich's cathartic vocals fall somewhere in between PJ Harvey and Diamanda Galas in terms of all-out expressivity, and the beauty and bleakness of the music recalls both composer Arvo Pärt as well as Nico's classic The Marble Index.

Gospel music, with the ambience of an exorcism.

Bozulich's backing group, which includes ex-Fibbers/current Wilco guitar great Nels Cline and members of Silver Mt. Zion, contributes droning, icy organ, piano, strings, buzzing electronics and even a shortwave radio to sustain the baleful mood and keep the music pushed to the edge. Tracks like “Steal Away” and “Prince of the World” offer relative peace, with Bozulich's voice fragile and straining, while on “Evangelista 1″ and “Pissing” it's fierce and fiery. Like Tim Buckley and Scott Walker, Bozulich's experimental touches are not a matter of fusion but of superimposition; her harmonic palette is more limited than those artists', but in Evangelista she has made an album as memorable as their best work.