- Into The Woods
- Invisible Whip
- Brassy Cassy
What happens when percussionists José Medeles and David Coniglio prove that a drum and vibes record doesn't have to be a niche project only drum enthusiasts will love? They do it again. However 1939 Ensemble's second album, Black Diamond Pearl, is not a repeat performance. This time, with less to prove and a solid fan base eagerly awaiting more, the band is now comfortable in its own skin. And it shows. There is a tonal shift in Black Diamond Pearl that reflects the ease and confidence 1939 has earned, allowing the band to take more risks and have more fun.
For their second album, 1939 Ensemble added a third member, multi-instrumentalist Josh Thomas, whose musicality adds a rich ostinato to Medeles and Coniglio's dialogue. Next, the band put together a dream team of like minded individuals to help build the record, including John McEntire (Stereolab, Trans AM, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise), Tucker Martine (Decemberists, My Monring Jacket, Brian Blade), Mark Orton (Tin Hat Trio), Holland Andrews (Like A Villian), M. Ward and Michael Flinn. “These folks are incredible creative forces that bring out the best in you,” reflects Medeles.
Like their debut Howl & Bite, Black Diamond Pearl is a journey, cinematic in nature and ranging the full spectrum of emotion. The album opens up with Ryder, a puckish romp in vivid colors, a bright trumpet peppering the ebullient rhythms. Some of the more percussion-heavy songs are exercises in tom work, and you can imagine McQueen in Bullitt blasting these high octane tracks as he races up and over impossibly steep San Francisco streets in his '68 GT. Vintage California pervades such songs, even in the way a rhythm might unravel at the end like a sunset dissolving into the Pacific. At other times, the drum language is subtler, and newly wrought space is filled with penetrating brass, etherial vocals (provided by Like A Villian’s Holland Andrews), and industrial noise. A sense of impending catastrophe might arise in the shudders and booms, or a glimmering melody will give way to something darker--the hi-hat, steam drifting over seedy streets of some urban dystopia, the lonely trumpet, a monologue of discontent.
Black Diamond Pearl will leave its listener breathless, unable to anticipate what is coming around the next curve, but 1939 Ensemble will take your hand and get you through this twisting and turning soundscape--probably in one piece.